Brooke Shields explores complex relationship with mother in 'There Was a Little Girl'

January 6, 2015 

Book Cover:  There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me"There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me" by Brooke Shields; Dutton (416 pages, $26.95)


Among child stars, Brooke Shields has a survivor status that could rival hip-hop’s 50 Cent: a possessive, alcoholic mother, postpartum depression, a struggle for serious recognition, and a failed marriage to Andre Agassi.

She chronicles it all in her new memoir, "There Once was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me." As the title suggests, she did it with the help of "momanager" Teri Shields.

Starting from humble beginnings in Newark, N.J., Theresa Schmon becomes a New York bon vivant, landing Brooke’s well-to-do father, Frank Shields. Brooke Shields’ first modeling job as an Ivory Snow baby leads her into film, most notably the controversial "Pretty Baby," in which she played a 12-year-old prostitute, and "The Blue Lagoon," about the sexual coming of age of a boy and girl shipwrecked on a tropical island. Shields says her mother’s famous quote "Fortunately, Brooke was at an age where she couldn’t talk back" was typical of Teri Shields’ dark humor, but through the book you wonder whether there was more than a little truth to it.

Shields tells the story of a relationship that had elements of devotion and dysfunction, of Sundays at church and knowing which bars to find her mother in. At 13, Shields stages an intervention, with her mother saying, "I’m only doing this for you, Brooke." Shields would be well into her 20s before she broke free.

When Brooke seeks new management after her Princeton graduation, Teri accuses her of "divorcing" her.

Sadly, Teri never finds permanent sobriety and the two never have true closure before Teri drifts into dementia and dies in 2012.

At 416 pages, the book can be tedious with its theme of alcohol and co-dependency, but if you are a fan or have struggled to love a parent with a dark side, you might find something to relate to.




McClatchy-Tribune Information Services