Grateful American by Gary Sinise – a #BookReview

Gary Sinise recently published Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service and I’m thrilled to present his book to you today. This heartfelt, emotional narrative has become a NYTimes bestseller.

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Book Blurb:

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose–or so it seemed. 

Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Grateful American by Gary SiniseMy Review:

Mr. Sinise sub-titled his work A Journey from Self to Service. I’d be more inclined to say from self to self-less. The actor begins very honestly, painting his childhood years in a happy middle-class American home in the southside of Chicago with loving, supportive parents. These days he might have been classified as dyslexic–back then–he was left to struggle in school, barely gathered D grades but advanced to the next level despite his lack of reading or writing skills. By the time he was in high school, he skipped more classes than attended until a teacher discovered his gang look band with his buddies and advised they audition for the upcoming school play, West Side Story. The rest is, as they say, history…although there were many years of paying dues in between, each test or challenge met and surmounted.

Some time following his delayed graduation, he eventually organized a young theatre company he and several of his friends called Steppenwolf in 1974. They located in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, now located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. What followed is a combination of luck, grace, guidance, and perseverance. Within the theatre community, he is surrounded by a core group of friends, drinking buddies, drugs (it’s the 70s), talent, and growth–slow–but growth. He also meets the woman who will become his wife, Moira.

Years pass, decisions made, regretted and backpeddled, but gradually, Sinise gains more and more attention going forward leading to his breakthrough part in Forrest Gump (1994 – twenty-five years). Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump

(Who hasn’t seen Forrest Gump at least three times?) Sinise loves acting but never forgets his love of music, fueled by his bass guitar. Having married into a family of veterans, including Viet Nam, he decides he wants to get his young adult band back and do a show for vets and that’s the beginning of the Lt. Dan Band, but only the tip of the iceberg that will become his work with recognizing the sacrifice of the military and acknowledging all the work that needs to be done in support of those who continue to fight for our freedom.

Most of the book is dedicated to his life experiences and movies that eventually turned into the opportunity to do the TV drama spinoff, CSI: NY. During those years, he and his wife had three children and there are health issues with Moira and other family and friends. He relates their commitment to church and their faith. And Sinise never shies away from describing the cost to the men and women of the military that continue to defend and buttress our freedoms.

Then Sinise widens his outreach to those first responders, fire, police, firefighters, and rescue. Nine-eleven burned into his conscience the need to do more. And there is always more. The children of the casualties also became beneficiaries of his constant search to discover what else he could do, including working with the USO stateside and abroad. He formed the Gary Sinise Foundation and continues to shower gratitude and to remind them they are not forgotten nor taken for granted. He never wants a returning hero to receive the treatment experienced by those returning from duty during the Viet Nam conflict. He also writes of the many awards received for all the good work he has initiated.

I really enjoyed the book, have long been a Gary Sinise fan, and hold him in high regard acknowledging all he has accomplished. I requested and was granted the digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was absolutely thrilled to receive for a read and review and these are my own opinions. I only had two problems: The format of the ebook received (an early eARC?)  had missing words, lots of edit misses, with “DO NOT COPY” and “material copyrighted” or “do not duplicate” sprinkled throughout the text. Also, the author didn’t lay out a chronological narrative, but tended to bounce backward or forward as thoughts hit him as an explanation for how or why events occurred. Otherwise, I’m sure the format has been perfected in the new releases and heartily recommend the very genuine and powerful Grateful American.

Title Link: Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
Genre: Biographies of Actors and Actresses, Television Performer Biographies, Rock Band Biographies
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • ISBN-10:1400208122
  • ISBN-13:978-1400208128
  • ASIN: B07DT4GBKJ

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

The Author: (Amazon) Gary Sinise is an Oscar-nominated actor and winner of an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and two Screen Actors Guild awards, and has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, all while advocating for America’s veterans for nearly forty years.  For his service work, Gary has been presented with numerous humanitarian awards including the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the US Army, and the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense. He was named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the United States Navy, was pinned as an honorary Marine, and received the Sylvanus Thayer Award at West Point, given to a civilian “whose character, service, and achievements reflect the ideals prized by the U.S. Military Academy.” He’s also the recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded by the President of the United States to citizens for “exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation. ”

Gary Sinise - author

(Goodreads) Gary Sinise is an American actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his most memorable roles as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Another notable role was as Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13).

In 2011 Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. His “Lt. Dan Band” performs for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

Lt Dan Pic Attribute: Wikipedia
YouTube video: US Army at Fort Huachuca in AZ with the Lt Dan Band

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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In Pieces by Sally Field – a #BookReview

In Pieces by Sally FieldTitle: In Pieces by Sally Field

Genre: Mid Atlantic S. Biographies, Television Performer Biographies

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1538763028
  • ISBN-13:978-1538763025
  • ASIN: B079L57W1M

      Print Length: 416 pages

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Source: New Books from the Library

Title Link: In Pieces

#1 Best Seller

Book Blurb:

In this intimate, haunting literary memoir and New York Times Notable Book of the year, an American icon tells her own story for the first time — about a challenging and lonely childhood, the craft that helped her find her voice, and a powerful emotional legacy that shaped her journey as a daughter and a mother.

One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades, beginning with her first TV role at the age of seventeen. From Gidget’s sweet-faced “girl next door” to the dazzling complexity of Sybil to the Academy Award-worthy ferocity and depth of Norma Rae and Mary Todd Lincoln, Field has stunned audiences time and time again with her artistic range and emotional acuity. Yet there is one character who always remained hidden: the shy and anxious little girl within.

With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships–including her complicated love for her own mother. Powerful and unforgettable, In Pieces is an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century.

My Review:

In Pieces by Sally Field - Front coverIt’s called a memoir. Perhaps more honestly, an exposé. But certainly not what you’d expect. If you are looking for the inside scoop about Tom Hanks or Robin Williams, you won’t get it here. This is pure Sally at age 72 (born in 1946), raw, open, vulnerable, naive, and damaged. She is a product of sexual abuse, a beautiful mother fighting deniability, torn, and numbing her own culpability with alcohol. In spite of the family back story, her step-father introduces her into the world of acting. On stage, she can be outside herself. The problem is off stage.

You may be too young to remember Gidget, it only lasted a year, or The Flying Nun, which she did NOT want to do and ended up saddled with the silly persona that took years to overcome. Beginning in 1977, however, she accumulated a long list of awards. But you should remember that she was a two time Academy Award winner.  Norma Rae in 1980 and Places in the Heart in 1985 wherein receipt of her Oscar often resulted in misquotes of her famous “you love me” acceptance speech. Additional works ranging from serious to comedy included Sybil, Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Forrest Gump.

Still, this memoir has little to expand on the movies and all to do with how she got there and the ongoing conflict with family, particularly her mother and step-father. Sally expands on her commitment to be a serious actress, working with the Actors Studio and many very talented people. She painfully speaks of an abortion and reveals the circumstances of her marriages as well as the birth of her three boys.

Sally Field - author - back coverProfoundly personal, open, and many times humiliating, she discusses her life, warts and all. She is alternately sad, even bitter, but relates all in beautifully written prose, describing scenes that put you in the middle. Necessary to scrutinize the details of her life in the effort to find reconciliation with all that she struggled, the seven years it took to write her memoir has possibly given her peace.

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

The narrative examines her sexuality, or the insecurity thereof, and the timbre of the times regarding sexual harassment. Fortunately, much of that behavior has changed. Field doggedly pursues her acting goal and manages to succeed. I was not totally surprised by the Hollywood couch mentality–that seems to have been a recurring story. Still, talk about dedication!

Hubby brought home this large print (thank you!) hardcover “new” library book and I couldn’t wait for him to finish. This is a novel written for herself as much as for us, articulate, profound, and I think you’ll find it hard to put down. I sincerely appreciated her candid and genuine story. Wholeheartedly recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Sally Field - authorThe Author: Sally Field is a two-time Academy Award and three-time Emmy Award-winning actor who has portrayed dozens of iconic roles on both the large and small screens. In 2012, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2015 she was honored by President Obama with the National Medal of Arts. She has served on the Board of Directors of Vital Voices since 2002 and also served on the Board of The Sundance Institute from 1994 to 2010. She has three sons and five grandchildren.

©2019 V Williams Blog author