Even though I grew up in a fairly average family, I am aware that some families are more dysfunctional than others. But to say that the Francis family was dysfunctional is putting it mildly. I was astonished at what I read in the memoir from Melissa Francis, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter.
Melissa Francis was a child actress, best know for joining the cast of Little House on the Prairie as Cassandra in its last two seasons. The rest of her family consisted of her older sister Tiffany, her ineffectual father and her domineering, neurotic, competitive and often cruel mother.
Originally both daughter were actresses, but Tiffany didn’t enjoy it and stopped acting by the time she became a teenager. After that, all their mother’s focus was on getting Melissa jobs, taking her to rehearsals and doting on her. Tiffany only received the brunt of her mother’s anger which had devastating consequences.
Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter was a fascinating read. I thought I would enjoy the sections discussing Melissa’s acting jobs the most, because I love reading about the entertainment industry. But as interesting as that part of the book was, it didn’t hold a candle to how things became later in life when Melissa stopped acting also and her mother really became the devil.
A quote from a co-worker on Little House on the Praire:
“Melissa Francis’ story is riveting. The book is the perfect antidote for the ‘Tiger Mom’ syndrome that seems to be gaining traction in today’s society . . . If you want to be inspired to reach beyond what you were taught as a child, get this book now.”
— Melissa Gilbert, author of the bestselling Prairie Tale: A Memoir
I highly recommend Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter. The topics of child actors, stage parents, parenting and more are discussed in a very open way and this book is a very honest look into a real family. Melissa Francis is currently a journalist with the Fox Business News Network.
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