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Untied by Meredith Baxter Books in Review
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Untied - A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering
by Meredith Baxter
Crown Archetype
ISBN 978-0-307-71930-0
Published March 2011 - Hardcover - 280 pages - $25.00

Growing up with a sense of abandonment by one's mother cannot have been easy for Meredith Baxter.  Her book starts off with her life as a child with her two brothers and her wannabee actress mother who they called by her first name.  Meredith Baxter played one of the most beloved TV moms, Elyse Keaton, on Family Ties.  Her performance as a hippy-ish mom with Michael Gross's Steven Keaton, was fantastic.  Family Ties was a happy show with a happy family, but all's not always as it seems.  It's ironic because Meredith was having a horrible time at home, in her real life.  She was married at the time to David Birney, her second husband.  Her book covers her unhappiness at her absent mother, her stepfather, her teenage years, her first jobs, her first marriage, her first two children, the parties and drugs (not excessive), and her insecurities.  Then she met David Birney when they worked on Bridget Loves Bernie, and they got married.  From the start there were huge signs that this man was an ego maniac and a control freak, but when one's self-esteem is non-existent, one does silly things.  The way he wore her down with the belittling things he said, is very sad to read and difficult to imagine.  When he hit her, well, that's just unacceptable.  Birney's behavior is inexcuseable, pathetic, and an indication of what a small man he is.  Meredith's love-life is weaved in with the story of her career, and we learn how she stumbled into acting, the roles she got, the movies she made, and some of the people she worked with.  Of course she talks fondly of Family Ties and the cast.  However, Baxter went on to marry a third time, to yet another loser, not that her first husband was bad.  Life's a learning curve, right?  Drinking softened the blows until Meredith addressed her "problem" and stopped drinking 20 years ago.  She also talks about her bout with breast cancer, and has gone on to form the Meredith Baxter Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.  Coming out wasn't easy but she did it, publicly, and is in a loving and fulfilling relationship.  Ms. Baxter's story is not uncommon and will give hope to so many struggling with domestic violence/abuse, those with alcohol problems, and those who hide in shame for being gay.
Conclusion - An incredibly moving and eye-opening story of a woman's struggle to find herself.  Brava!

book cover

Review copy not supplied by publisher - library copy reviewed.

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