Newest Review: ... at a specific point and is mostly focused on a particular area of Michael's life, namely his experiences with dealing with Parkinson's and ... more
Always Looking Up - Michael J. Fox
Member Name: cyberem78
Always Looking Up - Michael J. Fox
Advantages: Inspirational, eye opening.
Disadvantages: Some sections are like a political manifesto.
I do not usually read biographies but I was recently told to do so by a friend who suggested it might inspire me. When I went to my local library I had no clue about whose life I might like to read about until I saw this Michael J. Fox book on the shelf. I, like many others, was a young fan of Michael's after he commanded attention with some of his classic roles in the 1980's. He was basically my first celebrity crush whose face was pinned up on my bedroom wall. I then followed his career as time went by and was saddened when he announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I was later surprised that he continued to act after this disgnosis and also that he became so vocal in politics and in particular the stem cell research debate. I thought this book would be a very interesting read considering what the actor has lived through.
When I started the book I noticed it contained several references to his previous memoir 'Lucky Man' which I did not read. It probably helps to have read this memoir but it is not essential to understand the references. However 'Always Looking Up' does jump in at a specific point and is mostly focused on a particular area of Michael's life, namely his experiences with dealing with Parkinson's and what he has been doing since being diagnosed.
The first half of the book is a very detailed account of how Michael dealt with the diagnosis, his actions afterwards and the dealings with people who would come into his life as a result of having this illness. I did think certain stretches of the narrative were a little too musty in places and focused too much attention to explaining who was who in the political world. I also initially thought that the text read a little bit like a manifesto dealing with the notion of why stem cell research is acceptable. However, Michael's dogged campaigning for stem cell research to be undertaken with hopes that it might cure conditions such as Parkinson's is astonishing and admirable. The details of his achievements are outlined in this book. I was very taken aback at just how much he has achieved and how hard he has fought for his own needs and for the needs of others. I did not know until reading the book that he had actually established a Foundation for Parkinson's, for example. The way he discusses setting this foundation up in the book is quite astonishing as he makes it sound like it was a relatively easy thing to have done.
I liked that the latter half of the novel is devoted to more personal aspects of his life. The book is divided into several parts whilst smaller chapters are cut up into scattered time periods. It's like flicking through a book of memories and it makes sense that their recollection is not linear. There are some amazing and shocking stories which include the time period of 9/11. Michael's actions after this terrorist attack says volumes about what kind of person he is and you can't help but respect and admire him. Also included are stories about Christopher Reeve and how his story intertwined with Michael's life. There are also smaller references to other celebrity friends such as Robin Williams which are funny.
The past is also brought to life by references to video footage and interviews which are still accessible now thanks to Youtube. I recommend clicking up on footage that Michael mentions in the book as it can help to recreate the whole picture.
I enjoyed reading in detail about Michael and his family and their faith and how this relates now to the idea of stem cell research. Michael does comment a lot about how people opposing stem cell research have such opinions because of their religious beliefs. He is very respectful of all people though but you can't help but feel his frustration behind the words he choses. I also felt that there was a paradox in some of the things he talks about, that being fate and faith and why everything happens the way it does.
When I finished this book I was left feeling a little bit small to be honest. The narrative ends just before the Obama election. I know that since then the actor has continued to work creatively whilst continuing his work with his foundation. To be quite honest his hard work is breath taking and seems super human to me and I have more respect and admiration for this guy than I ever did. I feel a lot more informed about Parkinson's and reading 'Always Looking Up' has also inspired me to find out more about what stem cell research means and where the campaign is standing in political terms. Reading this book also made me look at myself and ask what should I be lending my voice to, what can I do to make a difference? I have a feeling that there will be more books written by Michael in the future too.
Summary: Worth reading.
More reviews in the field of Biography
- The personal side of Gary Barlow.....
- Call The Midwife - Book - Jennifer Worth
- Rockstars, Rockettes and Rockbottom
- Another formulaic soul searching novel for the fortysomethings.
- An extraordinary life
- The elder statesman of British entertainment
- Damaged, a truly heartbreaking story you won't be able to put down
- It's True! - Today Everything Changes
- Moab is My Washpot - Stephen Fry's First Autobiography.
- The Wolf of Wall Street - Jordan Belfort
- Daughter of the Desert: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell - Georgina Howel ...
- Twin Ambitions: My Autobiography - Mo Farah
- Will You Love Me?: The story of my adopted daughter Lucy - Cathy Glass
- Where Mercy is Shown, Mercy is Given: Star of Dog the Bounty Hunter - Duane Chap ...
- Katherine Swynford - Alison Weir
- Elizabeth, the Queen - Alison Weir
- Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England - Alison Weir
- A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex - Chris Jericho
- Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough - Duncan Hamilton