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Monday, July 6, 2015

Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son

I have always loved Martin Sheen, but being a woman in my early 30's, I missed several of his big movies. They are all on my list to watch or re-watch during the holiday break, but in the meantime, I indulged in Sheen and his son's, Emilio Estevez's, dual biography, Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son

Martin Sheen, known to his parents as Ramon Estevez, was born and raised in the Midwest to an Irish immigrant mother and a Spanish immigrant father. He left home as soon as he was able to pursue acting full time, where he met and fell in love with his long-time love, Janet. At age 21 his oldest son, Emilio, was born, and Martin's life changed forever. Three more children, multiple movie sets, and one big move to Malibu later, Emilio follows in his father's footsteps. As they grow together, they will have their differences, but they will always be father and son.

This memoir is told with a throughline of the movie The Way, which I saw in a preview and really adored. It's a father/son story in which a father finishes his son's hike across the Camino de Santiago for him. It's a fitting grounding for Emilio and Martin's story, and I originally picked up this book as a follow-up to the film. It was more than worth it, as I really loved this story. I learned so much about an actor I respect deeply and his son, Emilio, that I now also respect in a way I didn't before.

This book is also an amazing history book for cinephiles. Every major film the two of them participated in is recounted here, from Apocalypse Now, Ghandi, and Badlands, to The Breakfast Club and The Outsiders. These stories are those that don't exist anywhere else, and if a few of them do, you get to read it here from a personal perspective. Particularly the Apocalypse Now stories--those are doozies. It was amazing to read about Sheen's move through addiction and finally choosing sobriety. Everyone has their own journey, be it as an actor or finding sobriety, and hearing two different people tell some of the same stories was really fascinating and eye-opening. 

Ultimately, though, it was the love that these two have for each other that made this book everything that it is. There is no guide to parenting, and everyone learns as they go. When Emilio has children and has to learn how to be a father himself, you see the wisdom dawning in him, and the respect he then has for his own father far exceeds the respect he could have ever had before. It's a strong read, and one that I railroaded through because it was just that interesting.

For purchase below.

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