Friday, March 11, 2011

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox

A few years ago, or maybe it was only 2 years ago, I became interested in reading Michael J. Fox's book.  Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist sounded like my kind of book.  I'm sure I saw him on Oprah and was fascinated by his journey and probably, right then, decided that one day I'd read his book. 

Last week I finally picked up his book.  I actually had forgotten about wanting to read it until I saw it sitting there in the library.  "Oh yeah...I wanted to read this."  So, checked it out I did.  As I mentioned, I liked the title -- cheery -- and I like the cover.  Yes, come on, admit it.  We all do judge a book by its cover.  I know I do.  That's not to say that I don't read some very plain covered books and find a story within the pages to be extremely entertaining.  But, a catchy cover does get my attention -- and Mr. Fox's picture, with his blue eyes against the blue background, looking was pleasant.  I like that little smile he has on his face.  It's appealing and makes me feel happy.  Optimistic.  So, good job there on the cover.

However, when I started to read it, I was very disappointed.  Today, Marcus asked me what I learned from reading the book.  Good question.  I couldn't answer because I really don't know.  I supose I learned a little more about stem cell research from MJF's point of view, but even still...I'm not sure what I learned.  There were parts that were just interesting and I appreciated hearing his stories.  I appreciated his perspective on life.  And, I was interested in what his life entails with Parkinson's and how that affects his family.  What I was expecting was more of all of that though.  I was disappointed with the language he used.  Furthermore, I felt like he was using his book as a way to promote his political agenda.  Instead of talking about his activism, explaining his drive and what got him to get so involved...he does that briefly and then spends quite a bit of time pushing his agenda.  Perhaps that's not what he intended, but that is the feeling that I got, and that frustrated me.  I'm not super into politics, but I know a little bit about what my own personal views are...and I was frustrated that in reading a book for enjoyment, I was fed his agenda.  I don't know.  Maybe I should have expected that, but I didn't.

Lastly, I take my personal faith pretty seriously.  It defines me and the decisions I make.  I was disappointed in some of the references and comparisons he made to things that I feel to be sacred.  One time -- ok, I get the point you are trying to make.  But when comparisons and references are made too much, I get uncomfortable. 

I did find parts of the book to be worth reading.  I am impressed with his drive.  I'm impressed with his dedication and incurable optimism.  I'm impressed with his family values -- how he and his wife love each other and work together -- how his children, and family, appear to be his number one priority.  I have no reason to believe otherwise based on the love he expresses, the experiences he shares, and the decisions he's made along the way that affect his family.  Do I think he's a good person?  Yes.  I do.  I think Michael J. Fox is a great person who cares deeply and fights for those things that he feels are worth fighting for.  I support some of those same things.  Was his book worth reading?  mmmmm  I'm not sure.  I think I liked my view of him better before having read his book.  But, I wish him success is funding more research for PD and many blessings as he continues living life with his family.  He certainly deserves all of that.

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