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Book Review: Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford

February 4, 2010 3 comments

Red book cover for Mommie Dearest with a black and white photo of Christina and Joan Crawford.Summary:
In the early days of Hollywood, Joan Crawford became one of the first celebrities to adopt children.  From the outside, it looked like her children had it all–presents, inherent fame, an apparently adoring mother.  However, in Christina’s tell-all memoir, she reveals the truth behind the image.  A mother obsessed with cleanliness and rigid rules.  A mother who demanded her children worship her like her fans did in order to receive her love.  A mother so desperate to cling to her days of fame that she attempted to beat down any glimmer of success in her children.  A mother who Christina still desperately loved to the bitter end.

Review:
This memoir is a must read for anyone who thinks that having money and being a celebrity automatically makes for a good parent.  Joan Crawford expected her four adopted children to be exactly what she wanted them to be instead of loving them for their uniqueness and human imperfections.  Christina’s situation gradually worsens as she becomes older and starts to show glimmers of being her own person.  The scenes of abuse in Christina’s childhood are the best written in the book.  It is clear that she remembers them vividly and can still identify with the emotions that went through her as a child and young teenager.

*spoiler warning*
That said, Christina never manages to disentangle herself from her mother.  In spite of everything her mother has done, Christina still attempts anything and everything to reconcile with her, apparently ignoring or forgetting the fact that she never did anything wrong to cause her mother’s behavior in the first place.  Joan Crawford is a cruel, spiteful, evil person, and Christina naively continues to seek her love even in her 30s.  This makes it more sad than most memoirs about abuse as it seems that Christina never truly overcame her abuser.
*end spoiler*

The writing, beyond the scenes of abuse, is sub-par.  Christina has a tendency to ramble a bit in an uninteresting way.  She also seems to not understand which parts of her life to skim over a bit.  I mean, did we really need to know exactly when in a funeral her husband hands her a paper cup of water?  No.  Additionally, she obviously had a bad editor, as there are quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes, which is odd for a mass market paperback.

Overall, it’s worth a read if you’re into memoirs or the inside Hollywood scoop.  All others should probably give it a pass though.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Swaptree

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