Brooke Shields, the iconic model-actress-Princeton grad, entered the literary scene in 2005 with her memoir about postpartum depression. This time, she sheds light on the relationship she shared with her mother, and it’s a well-crafted and insightful read from beginning to end.
It would be a shame to dismiss “There Was a Little Girl” as a celebrity tell-all. Instead, it’s a thoughtful, poignant and provoking story about a girl and her mom prompted by a New York Times obituary written shortly after Teri Shields’ death in 2012.
“If this dead 79-year-old woman could elicit such a vehement response and vicious reaction so many years after her prominence in the public eye,” Brooke Shields writes in the prologue, “there was something there that needed to be explored.”
What follows is a remarkably clear-eyed examination of a mother crippled by alcoholism and a daughter torn by taking care of herself, her prolific and profitable career and her mom.
Rather than buoy the public’s preconceptions about a child forced too young to star in Louis Malle’s “Pretty Baby” and advertise Calvin Klein jeans, Shields portrays her work as her only safe refuge.
“The movie business kept me afloat and sane,” she writes. “My mother’s drinking superseded my stardom. … I craved opportunity and I craved my mother’s sobriety. I never understood the connection between the two.”
The chapters in which Shields describes Teri’s death in vivid detail is particularly heartbreaking as we watch her experience a full range of emotion, including anger, sadness and regret.
Yes, as a teenager, she met Andy Warhol at Studio 54, and, yes, she befriended Michael Jackson, dated John Travolta and fell in love with George Michael and others. But she never sugarcoats her mother’s behavior nor hers. She delves into her own failed relationships as well as her weaknesses and insecurities, and, in the end, we see her simply as one of us.
“There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me”
by Brooke Shields
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.