"I was born into a fantasy world," Cathy Sherman Freeman begins her memoir A Disney Childhood; "Father was in charge of writing, editing, and publishing comic books for Walt Disney Studios. Fairy dust flew rampantly through our house a short block from the Disney studios. Wherever my imagination took me, I'd hang on for the ride."
Freeman led a charmed childhood, meeting interesting people from all over the world, traveling to many amazing places, and getting to know Disneyland inside and out. Her fairy tale ended abruptly when her father died of cancer at 45 years old. I loved the fact Freeman didn't end her story there with her father's death, but continued on with her family's near fatal boating trip and adventures throughout college and Europe. It's an interesting, all-encompassing memoir that does great justice to her life.
"What I couldn't foresee was the unexpected Foe waiting to strike," she wrote, "My life was as fated as Sleeping Beauty was fated." Freeman ended her memoir with the revelation that she had inherited her father's fatal cancer. The grim diagnosis led her to start this book. She wanted to document her childhood and her father's sense of humor and wonder. More than anything, she learned to look for humor in everything and laugh in the face of adversity.
A Disney Childhood was not at all what I expected. I anticipated a lighthearted story about growing up in Disneyland. I got that, but also a lot more. This book is poignant and touching, rejoicing in the beautiful aspects of childhood as well as delving into deep, dark parts of growing up—episodes like her father's death and the emotional turmoil it caused. I admire the way in which the author didn't blame anyone for her troubles and difficult times. She's raw and real and she strives to get past every hurdle with grace and maturity. She loses sometimes and she also succeeds greatly. This is a great coming of age story and an easy read. You absolutely don't have to be a Disney fan to enjoy Freeman's story. It's purely inspirational!
Read an excerpt from this book.
Cathy Sherman Freeman is the daughter of George Ransom Sherman, Head of Publications at Walt Disney Studios. Writing has been a part of her life since childhood, yet it wasn't until she was diagnosed with the same cancer that killed her father that she started writing a book. A Disney Childhood is her first book. Visit her website.
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