Robin by Dave Itzkoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book upon recommendations of several people who know that my family is dealing with Lewy Body Dementia. I will admit, at times this book was extremely difficult to read due to the extremely strong language used within. I laughed, I cried, I got mad while reading this book.
I grew up watching Mork & Mindy, in which Robin Williams played an alien. I loved that show as a kid and it was my first introduction into what would become one of my favorite all-time actors. What I didn't know growing up, and even into my adult years, was the grief and hardships that Robin overcame and continued to face to become the actor that he was. Robin grew up pretty isolated and alone. He had just about anything a kid could have ever wanted, except the time and attention from his parents that he so craved. He developed his own friends in the far room in the mansion he grew up in. Friends made of plastic molds that he could turn into any character.
This book focuses much on Robin's career. The highs, the lows, and the in-betweens. It talks of his family, the half-brothers that were closer than brothers to him, his mom Laurie, whom he thought hung the moon and stars, the three wives and various girlfriends he had, and his three children. It also talks of the close friendships he had with the likes of Billy Crystal and Christopher Reeve.
Robin was a pretty private person, considering he was an international star and celebrity. There is much of his life that I would have never known not reading this book. I wasn't reading this book though to learn about his celebrity status or what got him there. I was reading it to get a glimpse of the man he was leading up to his decision to hang himself that fateful August day. He spent most of his life lonely, depressed, strung out on drugs, addicted to alcohol, and fraternizing with various women. That's a side I would have not known of had I not read this book. Robin made everyone happy around him....except for himself. How can someone who brings such joy to others be so secluded?
There are three movies that he did that will forever be among my all-time favorites. First of all, Patch Adams. I was surprised to learn that he hated everything about that movie and didn't want to be known for it. Maybe it's the nurse in me that loved that one so much but I thought he did a fabulous job. Next, Mrs. Doubtfire. This one is my all-time favorite of his. There is something about the character, Daniel, in this movie, along with Mrs. Doubtfire, that makes it so believable. Maybe it was the issues he was dealing with at the time that spilled into his performance here to make it so. I also thoroughly enjoyed Dead Poets Society. The whole story line resonates with me so much about the desire to help others become better people. The way that movie inspired me to be a better teacher is, in part, due to Robin's sharing of himself through his acting.
While no one will ever fully know what was going through Robin's head the night of that fateful event, we can all be assured that there are researchers out there working on a cure towards this horrible disease. Many people didn't even know that Robin had been (mis) diagnosed with Parkinson's disease until after his death. It wasn't until an autopsy was performed that it was discovered he had, in fact, Lewy Body Dementia.
I would urge anyone personally dealing with this disease to seek help. Find people whom you can talk to. If you are the family member of someone dealing with this ugly disease, I would encourage you to do the same. Do not go through this alone! There are groups on social media, as well as professional counselors and support groups to help you through this. Love on those around you dealing with this and realize that they don't know what's going on with them. It's hard. I know. Reach out to me if you need to as well. Continue on in the fight against this ugly disease and pray for a way to slow down the progression and deal with the side effects so that those afflicted can have a better quality of life.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, with a bit of hesitation. There is a lot of very strong language within. There are situations that are not appropriate for immature minds. If you are only interested in the disease progression, just read the last 3 chapters of the book. You'll get what you need from there.
View all my reviews