Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated

I remember watching Little House on the Prairie as a kid. I remember the ending, with Baby Carrie running and falling down a hill with a dog (right?). I remember one episode where someone (Laura?) got locked into an underground bunker by a crazy lady who wanted a daughter. But I wasn't a huge fan of the show, while I was a monstrous fan of the books and have many of them committed to memory. Still, I was excited to read Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated because every time I've seen Alison Arngrim on TV as an adult, she's been a badass and I wanted to know more about her. Yes, I remember Nellie Oleson, but again, the book version is more prominent in my head than the TV version - and yet, somehow, I can remember Neillie/Alison's screeches and angry faces on the show.

You want dirt on Little House on the Prairie? You'll get it (although there's honestly not that much dirt). But first you will learn a great deal about Alison, including the brutal reality of her childhood. She was sexually assaulted by her brother for years, but somehow she survived it and came out fighting. Really, after a while I was less interested in the television tales and more interested in her personal story. She's become a loud voice for AIDS research, she works with the National Association to Protect Children (and got some important laws changed), and she does stand-up comedy that pulls no punches. I enjoyed following her journey from point A to point B, from kid of moderately famous parents (aren't they all? Her mom was Gumby!) to world-renowned mean girl to activist.

I do like reading a good celebrity bio on occasion, and this is right in line with that: well written (did she use a ghostwriter? I feel like she didn't...), thoughtful, and a good balance of industry information and personal triumph. (Then again, can you trust me? I loved How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson - it is SO good, I promise! And yes, Jameson did work with a ghostwriter.) So now I have to hunt down and read The Way I See It by Melissa Anderson (who played Mary on the show) because Angrim's descriptions of Anderson are biting and yet imply that there was something sad going on behind the girl who was aloof and cold to all around her. I want her side of the story now...

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