I really love show biz biographies

A review of Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life by Melissa Joan Hart

Are you familiar with the '90s television shows Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Well, Melissa Joan Hart, the actress who played Clarissa and Sabrina has written a book. And it's highly entertaining.

First and foremost, like the subtitle suggests, Melissa is very normal for a child actor with a continuing professional career in Hollywood as an adult. By Midwestern standards, though, I'd use the term down-to-earth rather than normal. Being married to a rock star and going to movie premieres and ski holidays in Banff isn't really that "normal." Still, she's raising her family in Connecticut, baking lasagna and having the neighbors over for drinks, so on some days, her life may be similar to yours or mine.

Just a few of the interesting things you'll learn from this book: Melissa comes from a large, close-knit working class family and her father was a commercial fisherman. She started her career at age four with a television commercial. She was a Broadway kid for many years before landing a role on Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All and moved to Orlando where the Nickelodeon (and Disney) shows are filmed on a large campus. She was a teenager at the time she worked in Orlando and lived there with a nanny instead of family. This is a common scenario for kid shows filmed in Orlando. Who knew?

More importantly: you may be wondering which actors were nice to a promising Broadway kid and which were not so nice. You may be curious about who attended the Professional Children's School with Melissa in New York City. You may also want to know more about Joey Lawrence, Melissa's co-star in the ABC Family television series Melissa and Joey. I'm not judging! He's quite handsome! If you, too, enjoy show biz biographies, you'll learn a lot from this one.

Melissa was mildly wild as a young star, but continued on with her education and to success as a mature actor, wife, mother and adult. Good for her!


You've just put this on my list. I grew up with Clarissa, and loved Sabrina. This should be an interesting read.