Prairie Tale: A Memoir [NOOK Book]

Overview

A FASCINATING, HEARTBREAKING, AND ULTIMATELY UPLIFTING TALE OF SELF-DISCOVERY FROM THE BELOVED ACTRESS WHO EARNED A PERMANENT PLACE IN THE HEARTS OF MILLIONS WHEN SHE WAS JUST A CHILD

To fans of the hugely successful television series Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert grew up in a fantasy world with a larger-than-life father, friends and family she could count on,...
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Prairie Tale: A Memoir

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Overview

A FASCINATING, HEARTBREAKING, AND ULTIMATELY UPLIFTING TALE OF SELF-DISCOVERY FROM THE BELOVED ACTRESS WHO EARNED A PERMANENT PLACE IN THE HEARTS OF MILLIONS WHEN SHE WAS JUST A CHILD

To fans of the hugely successful television series Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert grew up in a fantasy world with a larger-than-life father, friends and family she could count on, and plenty of animals to play with. Children across the country dreamed of the Ingalls’ idyllic life—and so did Melissa.

With candor and humor, the cherished actress traces her complicated journey from buck-toothed Laura "Halfpint" Ingalls to Hollywood starlet, wife, and mother. She partied with the Brat Pack, dated heartthrobs like Rob Lowe and bad boys like Billy Idol, and began a self-destructive pattern of addiction and codependence. She eventually realized that her career on television had earned her popularity, admiration, and love from everyone but herself.

Through hard work, tenacity, sobriety, and the blessings of a solid marriage, Melissa has accepted her many different identities and learned to laugh, cry, and forgive in new ways. Women everywhere may have idolized her charming life on Little House on the Prairie, but Melissa’s own unexpectedly honest, imperfect, and down-to-earth story is an inspiration.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hold onto your sunbonnets... [Gilbert's] autobiography is no clean-cut family drama: It's chockablock with juicy tidbits."
—Entertainment Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439123607
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 42,445
  • File size: 932 KB

Meet the Author

Melissa Gilbert
Melissa Gilbert starred as Laura Ingalls on the hit television show Little House on the Prairie. She has starred in numerous movies and recently served as president of the Screen Actors Guild for two terms. Like Daisy, Melissa was very close to her father as a child. In her memoir, Prairie Tale, she recalls, “My earliest memory is of myself, at two and a half or so, watching my father doing his standup act. I was doing his act along with him. I adored my father.” She resides in Michigan with her family and French bulldog, Josephine.
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Read an Excerpt

one

FAIRY DUST

My mother was nearly a month past her husband's funeral when she turned her attention back to my desire to write a memoir. It wasn't just a desire; there was an actual book deal, and she was against it. If the book were on any topic other than myself, she would've already been circulating word that "Melissa is writing the best book ever." But this was different. It was about me. Which meant it was also about her. And she was against telling that story if she wasn't the one doing the telling.

She had tried numerous times to talk me out of it, but her efforts were interrupted by the death of my stepfather, Hollywood publicist Warren Cowan. Now she was back on point.

She showed up at my house one afternoon carrying a large box packed with news clippings, ads, letters, and diaries of mine. She set it down on the kitchen table with a thud and announced with a smile as deadly as a pearl-handled Derringer that the contents would be helpful.

"For your book," she said, pronouncing the word "book" as if it were a petrie dish containing the Ebola virus that I was going to let out in the world.

I marveled at her gamesmanship — and at her. She looked a decade younger than her age, which, if revealed, would be taken as a bigger crime than revealing Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. Her hair was blond and coiffed. It's sufficient and necessary to say she was strikingly attractive. She looked great whether going to her weekly appointment at the hair salon or to movie night at the Playboy mansion, which she and my stepfather had attended for years.

I also cringed at the layers at play here in my kitchen. I thought, thank goodness I have four sons. The mother-daughter relationship is one of mankind's great mysteries, and for womankind it can be hellaciously complicated. My mother and I are quintessential examples of the rewards and frustrations and the joys and infuriations this relationship can yield. By and large, we are close. At times, though, she could render me speechless with her craftiness. Now was one of those times.

While I sifted through the box packed with sacred bits from my life, my mother offered sly commentary and full-on reinterpretations of the contents. Ah, the contempt and fear and anger she hid behind her helpful smile.

To me, at forty-four years old, my book was a search for truth and identity. To her, it was — if only you could have seen the look on her face, you'd fully understand — the ultimate betrayal.

I moved on. I made tea. We talked about some of the condolences about Warren that continued to stream in. We mentioned which friends checked on her, the dinner invitations that kept her busy as ever, and of course the latest comings and goings of my husband, Bruce, and my sons. Finally, after we had caught each other up on everything, she returned to the book.

"You can write the book if you want," she said with a nonchalant shrug.

"Thank you," I replied. "I'm looking forward to it."

"I can understand why you want to write it," my mother said. "You write it and get it all out of you."

"Thank you."

"You have my blessing."

"Thank you again."

"But," she said, "the classy thing would be to burn it after you're finished."

My life was a mystery even as I lived it.

Several months earlier, I had called my mother and asked if I'd ever had a conversion ceremony to make me officially Jewish. Although I was raised Jewish, my upbringing didn't include any formal religious education or training. We celebrated Passover and other major Jewish holidays. But we also celebrated Christmas and Easter. It's why I always emphasized the "ish" in "Jewish."

As I got older, though, I grew more observant and intrigued by a more personal relationship with God. One day, as I discussed this with a friend who had converted to Judaism as an adult, she asked if I recalled my conversion ceremony.

"Huh?" I said.

My friend explained that adults wanting to switch to Judaism from another religion had to go through a conversion process. It included reading and discussion among friends; a deeper course of investigation with a rabbi; then study, immersion, and approval by a board, culminating with a public ceremony and celebration.

Even though I was just a day old when my parents adopted me, my friend explained my parents would still have needed a rabbi to perform a ceremony and a blessing to make me officially Jewish. That's when I asked my mother if she recalled doing the ceremony.

"Why do you need to know now?" she asked.

"Because if I never had a conversion ceremony, then I'm not really Jewish," I replied. "And if I'm not Jewish — "

"But you're Jewish," she interrupted.

"Who says?" I asked.

"I do."

"Mom, believe it or not, you are not the final authority on this issue."

"I'm your mother," she said. "And I'm Jewish."

"But my birth parents — "

"We adopted you at birth."

"Was there a conversion ceremony?" I asked.

"I don't remember," she said.

"You don't remember?"

"No."

"No?"

When it came to my childhood, my mother's memory was more reliable than the Apple-S command on my laptop, so I knew she had the information filed away somewhere. I switched tactics. I asked if she remembered what I did for my second birthday. She did, and described the party she threw me. I then asked if she remembered my first birthday party. She recounted that, too, including the flavor of the cake and the bakery where she bought it.

"Mom," I said with a dramatic pause worthy of the best courtroom lawyer, "you can remember my first and second birthday parties as if they happened an hour ago. But you can't remember whether you hired a rabbi and had a conversion ceremony for me. How is that?"

"Melissa!"

"Mom!"

"Maybe I didn't have one," she said. "I don't really know. What's the big deal?"

"It means I'm not Jewish," I said. "It means I'm not who I thought I was for all these years. It changes everything."

Okay, I exaggerated. It wouldn't change everything. When I hung up the phone, I was still going to be me: dressed in sweats, juggling car-pool duties, going to meetings, planning dinner, trying to wedge more into my day than twenty-four hours permitted. In one sense, my life would be fundamentally unchanged.

However, in another sense, my inner compass had already started to spin wildly out of control. Was there a conversion ceremony? That was a simple question. Was I who I thought I was? Not such a simple question.

Welcome to my not-so-simple life. My mother, whom I love early, has continually revised my life story within the context of a complicated family history that includes more than the usual share of divorce, stepchildren, dysfunction, and obfuscation, and I've spent most of my adult life attempting to deconstruct that history and separate fact from fiction, especially as the facts pertain to...me!

For example, my mother was at the helm of everything, including my career, my food intake, and how I dressed — my whole life. I never questioned her or rebelled. Speaking out against the family was the ultimate form of disloyalty, and disloyalty was not tolerated. It was like the mafia. Although I never feared getting whacked, I was always just a little afraid of being sent back to wherever it was I came from.

So in an interview back when I was ten years old, I'd likely have said that everything was wonderful, everyone in my life was fantastic, was happy, and life was perfect. But most of that was untrue. Just as it wasn't true when I told a reporter in an interview three months after my mom's second husband suffered a brain hemorrhage that I had my crying moments, but I was pretty tough about that sort of thing.

The truth is that I never cried over my mom's second husband. I was never close to him. I never liked him. I didn't have any relationship with him. I was dragged to the hospital when he was sick to add cachet so the nurses would take better care of him. I know it was difficult for my mother, but I don't remember being upset about anything at the time.

Could I say that to the press? Absolutely not.

A large part of my life has been an illusion — not an illusion crafted through carefully controlled media; it's more like light going through a prism, in that there's one story bent in numerous directions. There's my mother's version, there's the one in the press, there's the one I lived, and there's the one I'm still trying to figure out.

However, there are some facts. For instance, I am a twicemarried, now-sober former child actor and mother of four. I acquired those hyphenates by living the way I wanted to or needed to, hopefully with some grace and dignity. I made my share of mistakes, which I think of as the stones I stepped on to get to where I am today, and through luck, hard work, serious reflection, and a desire to face the truth about myself, I ended up at a place where I now enjoy the peace that comes from allowing myself to not be perfect.

Such was not always the case. My mother, beautiful, delicate, and deluded, saw me as the pillar of perfection — and told me that I was the world's best actor, the best wife, the best...at everything. I knew I wasn't, but I lived my life as though I had to be, lest I disappoint her.

Today, I just want to be my best, and I don't fear disappointing anyone other than myself and my family. I'm in love with a good man, and my children are brave, funny, and compassionate people. I love the lines around my eyes, but I hate the way my cheeks are falling; I'm carrying around an extra ten pounds and enjoying it (most of the time). I suppose I am truly fat and happy.

I play drums, surf, and meditate. I'm in a peaceful state of mind most of the time. Though I am lucky enough to earn a living at a job I love, I'm also thinking about going back to school to get my RN or LVN in end-of-life pediatric care. I'm much better going forward than backward or sideways. I have no real plan, just general dreams.

It wasn't always like this. I wasn't always at peace. I wasn't always content to let life happen.

For my first couple of decades, there was fairy dust sprinkled over everything in my life courtesy of my mother. According to her, and via her, through the press, everything was sparkly, beautiful, and perfect. Everyone was well behaved. We didn't have any problems. We never had colds.

In reality, things were quite different...and not okay. One of the first times I recall opening my eyes to this was when Rob Lowe and I were planning our wedding. Our plans were becoming ridiculously overblown and we were even talking about renting a sound stage. Oh, then there were the doves. Doves? Oy! It was a whole production.

One day my mother and I were in the car, going to meet the wedding planner and the florist. I was anxious about everything from the wedding details to the commitment I was about to make to Rob. I was a kid living a big life and growing up fast. Those years I spent in the "Brat Pack" (I really hate that stupid name) running with Rob, Emilio, and Tom, that was my equivalent to college. I didn't have the confidence of a bride-to-be. Nervous and near tears, I was a babbling river of anxiety and fear.

"I'm so scared about this," I told my mom. "I don't know, I don't know. Am I doing the right thing? Am I making a huge mistake? Can this work?"

My mother gave me a look full of calm and wisdom. "Sweetheart, don't worry," she said with total sincerity and earnestness. "Rob will make a wonderful first husband."

I heard that and something inside me clicked. It was my first allergic reaction to my mother's fairy dust. I thought, That is a really tweaked way of looking at life, and I knew something was not right. And such were our issues, my issues.

As with so many women I've met, my issues eventually caught up with me. I got to a point in life, somewhere into my second marriage and during my effort to get sober, where reality tapped me on the shoulder, demanding attention, asking questions I'd never stopped to consider: Who are you? How'd you get here? What does it mean to be a wife, a mother, a woman? What will make you happy? What does a peaceful life look like to you?

Sometimes life is like an uninvited houseguest. It shows up and refuses to leave until you deal with it. Call me a late bloomer, but I didn't feel eighteen until I was in my twenties, and I didn't start putting my life together until much, much later.

Furthermore, I still get letters from women whose lives were and often still are truly horrible, victims of physical and sexual abuse. These women say the one escape they had growing up was Little House on the Prairie. They wished they had Laura Ingalls Wilder's life the way I played her. What I don't ever tell them is that I'm also among those who wish I had Laura's life the way I played her.

For me, work was a fantasy where I was a happy-go-lucky kid with a larger-than-life surrogate father, Michael Landon. There were people I could talk to and count on, and horses and cows and other animals I could play with in an idyllic outdoor setting. In real life, I struggled with the mythology of my existence — the story of my birth grew from the fairy dust my mother sprinkled on the truth, whatever that was.

I always knew I was adopted. I was told that I was the child of a prima ballerina and a Rhodes Scholar; my mother was a beautiful dancer who wasn't able to give up her career, not just yet, and my father was in the middle of some project, and though I was the product of a loving relationship between two brilliant individuals, the timing was simply off, so they gave me up for adoption, this wonder child endowed with the gifts of both Margot Fonteyn and Stephen Hawking. My mother recognized in me the potential to be not just good but the most exceptional, and, well, that story was perpetuated over the years, told and retold like some sort of fairy tale or legend.

Finally, I reached an age where I was able to fact-check the story and found out my mother the dancer was in fact a dancer. What kind of dancer was never clear. She wasn't a prima ballerina, though. That much I figured out. And my father the Rhodes Scholar was a sign painter and stock car racer. They had both been married to other people. They each had three children. They ran off together, got pregnant, moved in together with their six children, and decided they couldn't afford a seventh.

So they gave me up for adoption, a child who would eventually nd up wondering who she really is, who she's related to, if she has a predisposition for high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, or any history of cancer or personality issues. If that's asking too much, I'm willing to settle for finding out who gave me the nose I disposed of at eighteen.

The latest twist in the story of my birth was brought to light a few days after my stepfather died. Close family and friends were at my mother's, and my godmother, Mitzi, started in about the day my parents picked me up at the hospital. She was hilarious as she described my parents and their first day with a newborn. Out of the blue my mother said, "Well, imagine what a shock it was for me!"

Everyone turned toward my mother, including me. She wasn't joking. She looked as if she was reliving that shock.

"I mean, we had no plans to adopt a child," she said.

As I had many times throughout my adult life, I cocked my head and flashed a quizzical look at my mother. What?

"We weren't even looking," she continued. "Then I got a phone call that there was a baby available and did I want it?" She turned to me. "I called your dad. He was on the road and he said, 'Yes, that's the one. Go get it.' "

"It?" I said. "You keep referring to me as an it."

"Well, actually, you weren't even born yet."

This was news to me. And I would have explored it further, except new people arrived at my mother's and she switched into hostess mode.

A few days later my mother came over to my house and we talked about my stepdad's death. I walked her through it because she didn't remember much; by contrast, I remembered everything in detail. I had brought in a superb hospice team and used my training to turn myself into a patient advocate, which allowed my mother and the love of her life to have a peaceful good-bye.

I told her who had come to visit in those final days, and then I described how she had spent Warren's last day alive lying in bed next to him, sharing her strength and comforting him through his final moments. I told her what I saw as I watched him take his final breaths wrapped in her arms. I thanked her for letting me be a part of something so private, so spiritual, and so profoundly moving.

After we had a good cry, I reminded her of the story she and Mitzi had started to tell about my arrival in this world. I still wanted clarification. Tired and vulnerable, she opened up and said that she and my father had been trying to have a baby and were actually going through fertility treatments when she got the call. The strange part was, until then, they had not spoken about adoption — or so she said.

A few weeks later I was replaying that conversation and realized something. My father had a daughter from a previous marriage. I'd met her once. And my mother was pregnant twice after me, once with a baby she lost at six months and once with my sister Sara. Both of my parents were fertile. So why couldn't they —

Obviously more was going on than I knew. Once again, the beginning of my life was defined by a question mark.

Copyright © 2009 by Half Pint Enterprises

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Table of Contents

Foreword Patty Duke xi

Revelations and Realizations

1 Fairy Dust 3

2 With Pardons to Darwin, The Origin Is Specious 13

3 Showtime 23

4 Something Better 34

5 Little House 45

Love, Loss, and Love

6 Growing Pains 57

7 What the Hell Happened? 65

8 Oh Shit, They Got a Real Man! 79

9 Not So Sweet Sixteen 90

10 Once, Twice, Three Times a Woman 101

11 Meet Cute 112

12 I'm Eighteen, and I Like It 124

13 Choices of the Heart 136

Hollywood Is the Devil's Toilet

14 The World According to? 149

15 Andy Wants to Know If Any Famous People Are Here 164

16 Wait a Minute, Who's the Princess in This Love Story? 173

17 What Fresh Hell Is This? 184

A Brand-New Start of It

18 The Heart of the Matter 199

19 New York Stories 209

20 Newsflash: This Person Doesn't Yell, "Do Me, Daddy" 223

21 No, No, No, We're Not Going to Do That 235

22 Gettysburg Was My Waterloo 247

Exactly Where I Need to Be

23 Gable and Lombard: The TV Version 261

24 Dates We Will Never Forget 273

25 Days of Miracles and Wonder 283

26 Inappropriate Behavior 299

27 All Kinds of Crazy 312

28 Madam Half Pint 322

29 A Pain in the Neck 335

30 The Sweet, Simple Things 348

Acknowledgments 361

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 115 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(40)

4 Star

(37)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 28, 2009

    So what's the story with Mary...

    Am I glad I read the book? Yes. But do I think this memoir could have said more? Absolutely. There are a ton of details in here - who Melissa Gilbert worked with, talked to, slept with, etc. But there is not much depth on what I consider to be some of the more interesting aspects of her life. Instead, this book seemed intent on conveying that Half Pint is all grown up, and not just that, but she has also had some seriously messed up experiences with booze and the men in her life. Interesting I guess. But it's been a long time since the days of Little House. Do people really still think of her as a little girl?
    I found this memoir to be more guarded than most. There were some HUGE stories hinted at which were given very little exploration. For instance, why did she and "Mary" hate each other? How did she feel about her sister also being a show biz kid (Sara Gilbert starred as Darlene on Roseanne)? How did she really feel about all of the money it sounds like her mom "earned" off of her? Why did her brother distance himself from the family, never to be heard from again? She only gave 3 lines to what most would consider a major family change. Finally, I was very perplexed behind why she would give up her eldest child so he could live with his father, when she had portrayed the father over the course of 50 pages or so as unstable, to say the least.
    I did very much enjoy some of the content that was included about Michael Landon. As a Little House fan, I would have liked to have read more about her relationships and experiences with other cast members. But to be fair, this isn't a book about Little House.
    Finally, I agree with a previous reviewer who noted that too much time was given to the names of each movie she starred in, who directed it, costarred, where it was shot, etc. If I wanted that information, I could just look it up on IMDB.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 26, 2010

    What a huge disappointment!

    Melissa seems so proud to tell the world that little Laura Ingalls was just another promiscuous, spoiled Hollywood brat. Is she not bright enough to know that anybody who would care to read a book by her would be people that loved "Little House", one of the last of the wholesome, family dramas. She's really not very interesting aside from her association with a great TV series that made us fall in love with characters who were honest, decent, loving people. Apparently quite the opposite of Melissa. The title made me think it would contain some behind the scenes stories from Little House and insights into the other actors, but don't let that fool you into buying this book. No talk of anyone, except for a brief mention of Michael Landon, and only to let us know he complimented her on her acting talents. You're all about you, Melissa, but you're really not THAT interesting! I hated the book!

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2010

    Not what I was hoping for.

    I was very disappointed when I read this book. I was looking forward to learning more about Melissa Gilbert but all she talked about was who she sleep with, the drinking and drugs and the SAG stuff. I felt she jumped from event to event with no continuity.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    All About Melissa- should have been the title of this book!

    I felt compelled to write this review even before I have completed reading this book. I am quite disappointed by Melissa Gilbert's story. I would not continue reading this book, if it were not for the fact that I spent money for it. I feel that Melissa Gilbert is very self absorbed and superficial. I expected more from her as a person. Not enough about Little House on the Prairie, and way too much about Melissa herself. Which I wouldn't mind, if she were an interesting woman. She tries to portray herself as a wounded child star that is damaged by her mother. It seems to me that in reality that she is just a spoiled celebrity looking to grab the limelight by writing a bio. Alison Angrim's was much more of an interesting read then Melissa Gilbert's. As you may be able to tell, I do not recommend this book!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

    half and half

    I thought Melissa's book was 100% better than Melissa Sue Anderson's, she went into more detail about life on the set (but I wish more)and her life after, but it was like reading the National Enquirer. I never followed the "Brat pack" or all the gossip beyond the headlines, just wasn't interested, but it made me sad to read how "normal" she thought it was to be in that lifestyle. But that was her choice, others that were in her shoes, chose to live a quieter,less glamourous life, but she was honest and I admired her strength. I just coudn't relate at all from the time she dated Rob, and part of me could have gone without knowing every intimate detail and bad choice.
    Has selling books gotten so difficult, you have to be that titillating? Do we have to know all the details of losing your virginity and drug abuse? Do you want your children to know every detail?

    I think out of the 3 "Prairie" books, I will like Alison's the most from what I could read online. I don't regret buying this book for 7.00 but I wish I knew less and not more now.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    "Half-pint" is a half-wit...

    Yuck...I thought a little something of Melissa Gilbert until I read this book... She should've kept her story to herself. Not an attractive past...not many redeeming qualities: reads like a mess - out of sequence. Makes Rob Lowe look like a Boy Scout. Yuck, Melissa...please don't share any more.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not as wholesome as I thought!

    I thought that Melissa Gilbert did an excellent job of writing her biography. I finished the book in about 3 sittings and really could feel her experiences through her writing. I felt that she was totally honest and told it like it was.it was not at all sugar coated as I thought it would be. The relationship that she had with Rob Lowe was really heartfelt. They met in hollywood at a very very young age. I could tell through her words that they must still remain very close friends. I also enjoyed her discriptions of movies she was in, but a couple of them were just to long and drawn out; I have to admit I did skim through just a wee bit of those. All in all if you like to read hollywood biography's, as I do I can highly recommend this one.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2009

    Love it!

    I haven't finished reading the book yet; I am almost to the end. I have always been facinated with Melissa Gilbert since watching her on Little House. This book made me realize that she is just a human being trying to live her life the best she can, just like the rest of us. I have learned not to believe everything the tabloids print and even though I am shocked to learn some of the things she has done, who am I to judge? She sounds like a wonderful mother who has struggled like a normal human being. If you want insight into a great person, who has flaws like the rest of us, but has succeeded in spite of them, read this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    "Half-Pint Is All Grown Up and Writing Her Own Prairie Tale

    Melissa Gilbert admits that "To me, at forty-four years old, my book was a search for truth and identity." And I would have to say that after reading PRAIRIE TALE, I believe she accomplished that from what I could tell. There was certainly a lot of truth and I surely know Melissa Gilbert's identity much better than before I read her memoir. I found the book to be an easy and enjoyable read. As someone who not only watched Little House on the Prairie but read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, as well as taught them in school to my students, I was excited to read about Melissa Gilbert, even though she has outgrown those pigtails.

    I found that she wrote with humor, sincerity and from her heart with honesty. You might almost think she was "name dropping" as so many familiar celebrities are mentioned but one must remember she is telling about her 44 years living in the spotlight of Hollywood from a very young child! I found out so many things I never knew about her like that she was adopted. I also had forgotten that I somewhat knew she was a wild member of the "Brat Pack" that included Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise as well as Rob Lowe who she had a very fiery and not so nice romance with, but wasn't aware of the drug use and a miscarriage with Lowe.

    Gilbert touches on times during her Little House years but that is not the bulk of the book as one might think. I was not surprised at her relating how much she cared for and admired Michael Landon but didn't know she REALLY didn't get along with her onstage sister Melissa Sue Anderson and makes no attempt at covering her feelings about it. I think that is part of the appeal of the memoir is that Melissa tells it like it is but doesn't try to sensationalize it.

    Her recounting the nightmare first marriage and divorce with Bo Brinkman after finding him in their home having sex with a prostitute was hard enough to read let alone live though. Melissa's subsequent romance and marriage to her now husband, Bruce Boxleitner, seemed to make up for it. Her tender moments with Michael Landon, dating his son for a while, her frank account of Shannen Doherty having an affair with her first husband, and Melissa's own addiction and even a supposed reaction to Johnny Depp asking to feel her breasts during a time she was lactating and her response for him to go ahead if he wanted to...all these things seem to be about another person than the one most of us know from the sweet Little House show and yet are told with such honesty and bravado, that you believe it all.

    I think that Melissa told about her life in a way that many people can relate to. Sure, we mere mortals don't help Marlon Brando in his time of need like she did, but if you take away the "names", Melissa Gilbert lived a life that was real and she is still doing a great job at it. Her dealing with her faults, and while being aware of her strengths has obviously made her the strong and happy woman she is today. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't imagine anyone not reading it straight through as it was that interesting and well written. Kudos to "half-pint"...and best wishes to a lady I'd like to see stay active in the Hollywood community for a long time. She paid her dues and deserves whatever success and happiness comes her way.
    Written by Karen Haney, July, 2009

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

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    Half-pint

    I enjoyed reading her memoir. I grew up watching her show and have always loved Melissa Gilbert. The book was very surprising to me, I guess I always thought of her as innocent Laura. I enjoyed her honesty and true humanism- warts and all.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    WARNING: Your image of Half Pint will not be the same

    Melissa became America's sweetheart on the Little House series. She must have had great publicists who kept her from a lot of negative press. Why she decided to tell all in this book is beyond me. First Maureen McCormick and now Melissa Gilbert . . . is it possible to be an actress in Hollywood without becomng a drug-addled slut? Melissa was a beautiful girl who ruined her nose with surgeries, lost her virginity during a "sweet" romance with an older actor (what's sweet about jailbait?), performed while hungover or under the influence, snuck Rob Lowe into her bed regularly then cheated on him to "return the favor," and much much more before the age of 21. I'm not completely comfortable with her willingness to name names. (Except for one chiseled actor whose name "sounded like Alan Greenspan." I wish I knew who he is so I can get 83-yr-old Greenspan's image out of my head!) Despite everything, I still see Melissa as charming, friendly, beautiful and, yes, someone I admire.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Bruce's wife

    Interesting but not for kids. I thought she looked good before all the surgeries.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A remarkable woman

    I bought this book because I love memoirs, taking a walk in someone else's shoes. This was one of the best. You grow up with her, become famous with her and she shares everything. She has had a fascinating life very different from the average actress' tale. Being adopted growing up in an alternate universe of TV land with the cast as her home and family. I had never seen her in anything but I wish I had been a regular viewer of "Little House" because now I am a big fan of hers. She's brave, witty and wonderful. She battled addictions and rose to be head of the Screen Actors Guild. She is respected and loved and it's well deserved. An adventureous and enjoyable read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2009

    Very Disappointed-

    I was disappointed. I was expecting this down to earth story of her life. But instead it is all about who she knows,and according to her every guy she comes in contact with wants her. She throws in things her and Rob Lowe bought and how much they paid for it. She spends her time trying to impress the reader with who she knows and how much money she has. I was more impressed with her before I read this book when I was still under the assumption that she was a nice down to earth child star.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Prairie Tale

    RIP OFF! I knew that when I saw the book had no table of contents I was going to be gipped! I NEVER EVER liked this person, but read where John Cusack (who I had the pleasure to meet last September in LA at the "Igor" premiere) was in the book. Knowing I couldn't get it at the library, I bought the book only to find lines NOT even a chapter on the person I was interested in. And you honestly want me to believe this author was into sex and drugs. Please, how guilable do you think we are? It was a fast read, and I quickly passed it on (via the internet) since I had no desire to keep it in my book collection.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2009

    Here we go again...

    Okay, here we go again. I should have known better but because I grew up on Little House I thought that perhaps Melissa Gilbert was different than all of the other Hollywood child actors. Not so! Wah, wah, wah. Boo, hoo, hoo. Given every opportunity in life, all she does is cry baby about her poor self. What a shallow existence: sex, drugs, alcohol, filthy mouth. It's all about "me." Huge dissappointment. The best thing about this book were the pictures.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A 'Half Pint' fan

    Having just seen Melissa on the 'Today Show', I was delighted to learn about her recently published memoirs. I immediately checked to see if 'Prairie Tale' was available on my Kindle - and happily found that it was ( is ). Melissa's recounting on 'Today' about her favorite episode on 'Little House' was a touching moment or two, and it authenticated her close relationship with 'Pa' - Michael Landon. That episode was one of my favorite ones - though it was obvious from the interview that Melissa found acting in that particular 'story' was extremely difficult for her. She was very close to Michael, and in that particular sequence was still very young - possibly filmed during the series' first season. ( For those who did not see the interview, it was the segment when little Laura ran away from home and was found on the mountain days later by Pa and Mr. Edwards. As she recounted on 'Today' the tears she shed were authentic - she was that close to Michael that her emotions were sincere and she burst into heart felt tears when Pa held her close after finding her. Having 'downloaded' 'Prairie Tale' I am anxious to read it. ( Melissa surprised me when she commented during the interview that she and 'Nellie' are good friends! Now THAT relationship called for superb acting if in truth they were good friends. ) At any rate, I'm looking forward to reading 'Prairie Tale' as I have long been an admirer of Melissa Gilbert.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2013

    Honest.

    Great tale

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    getting to know another laura.

    thought it was a well written book....straight forward....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Wow

    Intresting

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