Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review - The Key is Love, Marie Osmond

The Key Is Love: My Mother’s Wisdom, a Daughter’s Gratitude


Marie Osmond, Marcia Wilkie

Category: Nonfiction: Memoir: Celebrities; Parenting & Families

Synopsis: Osmond recalls her mother’s parenting style and discusses her life as a mother and daughter.

Date finished: 5 June 2013

Rating: ***½

Celebrity memoirs are never great. That’s sort of Celebrity Memoir 101. If you like the celebrity, you’ll like the book.

I know very little about the Osmond family. I was too young to know about the Osmond family as a performing group and likewise with the Donny and Marie show (I didn’t even know it was a T.V. show!). What I did know of Marie Osmond was when she became a country music star—actually, she was more on her way out by the time I knew of her. I did know, however, that the Osmond family was a large Mormon family. And that appeals to me.

I expected this to be a nice, light, book that was uplifting, if not well written. I was disappointed. For days after finishing, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t get the warm fuzzies I’d expected. Was it me? No, it wasn’t. The fact is, the bits of reminiscence about Olive Osmond were warm and friendly and reminded you that the Osmonds were one of the last great old-fashioned American families. They even handled fame and its demands—as a family, no less—in a humble, yet savvy way.

Where I was sorely disappointed, however, was that Marie apparently didn’t apply her mother’s parenting style with the same success. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly on the lookout for actors who have till-death-do-us-part marriages, performers who don’t get into drugs and alcohol, and celebrities who raise their children with boundaries and instill character. I like to see celebrities who can handle success and fame and the demands with integrity and grace. In that respect, Marie Osmond falls short of my ideal. She becomes just another celebrity with “celebrity problems” and her kids are your typical “celebrity kids.” Now, I know how hard it must be to raise good kids when you have great material means, and when you can’t be home because of performing or travel commitments. I appreciate how hard it must be on a marriage, too. There are stressors in celebrity families that the average family doesn’t deal with. I understand and sympathize with that. And yet, that’s where this memoir failed me. It was just another story of a celebrity family that falls apart at the seams and then picks itself back up again until the next tsunami comes through (to mix three metaphors).

I also feel like I need to gripe about the way the book was written. I sort of got the impression that the book was written for fans only, with no consideration for “non-fans” who might pick it up. (That, or it relied on the content of previous books—and who but a fan would know there were previous memoirs?) Even a simple chronology would have helped. She’d mention a marriage or allude to a remarriage, and I had no idea what or who she was talking about. I was probably a hundred pages in before I realized she’d had a marriage between her marriages to “Steve.” She’d also mention something huge in passing (like her son Michael’s death), and you never knew if she was going to address that in depth or not. She usually did, but it would be dozens of pages later. In short, the book needed an editor with vision. It was a meandering mess.

So, I don’t know. It just fell short. It was honest without being a tell-all (tell-alls are creepy). There was just an overall tone of immaturity and self-justification, and I detected a great deal of “mommy guilt” that hasn’t fully been dealt with. She uses her mother as a yardstick, and I don’t think she knows that she doesn’t quite measure up.

Would you recommend this to a friend?

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