Thursday, June 21, 2012

Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox (4 stars)

From Amazon: At the turn from our bedroom into the hallway, there is an old full-length mirror in a wooden frame. I can't help but catch a glimpse of myself as I pass. Turning fully toward the glass, I consider what I see. This reflected version of myself, wet, shaking, rumpled, pinched, and slightly stooped, would be alarming were it not for the self-satisfied expression pasted across my face. I would ask the obvious question, "What are you smiling about?" but I already know the answer: "It just gets better from here."

From the back cover: Michael J. Fox gained fame playing Alex P. Keaton on the sitcom Family Ties. His many other acting successes include the Back to the Future trilogy, and his award-winning lead role in Spin City, from which he retired in 2000. That same year, he launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which has leapt to the forefront of the effort to find a cure. He is the author of a previous book, the #1 bestseller Lucky Man, and lives with his family in New York City.

I grew up with Michael J. Fox. From Family Ties to the Back to the Future movies, he was one of my favorite comedic actors. When I found out about his Parkinson’s diagnosis, I was stunned. How could the forever young actor have such a debilitating disease? I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

So imagine how much trouble he had wrapping his head around it.

The book is broken up into four sections: Work, Politics, Faith, and Family. I’ll be honest, I could have done without the politics section. My dad always joked that you should never talk money or politics at a dinner party. In so many ways, it’s true. If you are preaching, you have to be prepared that you can lose the parts of your audience that don’t agree with you.

Politics aside, I really enjoyed the rest of the book and appreciated the breakdown of Fox’s experience into the realms of work, faith, and family. I admire how Fox stepped down from a hit television show because he knew it wasn’t fair to himself or the other actors and crew: “I didn’t want to make choices as an actor based on disability rather than ability.” He turned his love of acting into a determination to make a difference. What he has done to advance Parkinson’s research is highly commendable.

I also appreciated Fox’s frank talk about his symptoms and struggles. I never felt like he was sugarcoating his issues or over exaggerating them for effect. Some of the sweetest moments in the book are when Fox talks about his family and his enduring marriage to Tracy Pollen, his co-star on Family Ties.

An excerpt:

I feared it (Parkinson’s) most when I least understood it… Respecting it, however, doesn’t mean tolerating it. And you can only vanquish an enemy you respect, have fully sized up, and weighed by every possible measure.

His advice can be applied to so many people’s struggles. If you are facing any hardships in life, Fox’s perspectives and honesty can be both enlightening and empowering. A wonderfully inspiring read.

Rating: 4 stars

Note: For more information about the Michael J. Fox Foundation, please visit TheMichael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research website.


D.S taylor said...

yeah Miichael was always one of my favourite actors but ever since his diagnosis if anything i've been even more impressed by him

Tia Bach said...

I agree. He's inspiring. Thanks for stopping by!