Summary and book reviews of Still Me by Christopher Reeve

Still Me

By Christopher Reeve

Still Me
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  • Hardcover: May 1998,
    324 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 1999,
    255 pages.

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Book Summary

When the first Superman movie came out I was frequently asked 'What is a hero?' I remember the glib response I repeated so many times. My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences--a soldier who crawls out of a foxhole to drag an injured buddy to safety. And I also meant individuals who are slightly larger than life: Houdini and Lindbergh, John Wayne, JFK, and Joe DiMaggio. Now my definition is completely different. I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles: a fifteen-year-old boy who landed on his head while wrestling with his brother, leaving him barely able to swallow or speak; Travis Roy, paralyzed in the first thirty seconds of a hockey game in his freshman year at college. These are real heroes, and so are the families and friends who have stood by them."

The whole world held its breath when Christopher Reeve struggled for life on Memorial Day, 1995. On the third jump of a riding competition, Reeve was thrown headfirst from his horse in an accident that broke his neck and left him unable to move or breathe.

In the years since then, Reeve has not only survived, but has fought for himself, for his family, and for the hundreds of thousands of people with spinal cord injuries in the United States and around the world. And he has written Still Me, the heartbreaking, funny, courageous, and hopeful story of his life.

Chris describes his early success on Broadway opposite the legendary Katherine Hepburn, the adventure of filming Superman on the streets of New York, and how the movie made him a star. He continued to move regularly between film acting and theater work in New York, Los Angeles, and at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires. Reunited with his Bostonians director, James Ivory, in 1992, he traveled to England to work with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day.

The Man who cannot move has not stopped moving. He has established a charitable foundation to raise awareness and money for research on spinal cord injuries. His work as director of the HBO film In the Gloaming earned him an Emmy nomination, one of five that the film received. His speeches at the Democratic National Convention and the Academy Awards inspired people around the country and the world. He has testified before Congress on behalf of health insurance legislation, lobbied for increased federal funding for spinal cord research, and developed a working relationship with President Clinton.

With dignity and sensitivity, he describes the journey he has made--physically, emotionally, spiritually. He explores his complex relationship with his parents, his efforts to remain a devoted husband and father, and his continuing and heroic battle to rebuild his life.

This is the determined, passionate story of one man, a gifted actor and star, and how he and his family came to grips with the kind of devastating, unexplainable shock that fate can bring to any of us. Chris and Dana Reeve have gathered the will and the spirit to create a new life, one responsive and engaged and focused on the future.

Chapter 1

A few months after the accident I had an idea for a short film about a quadriplegic who lives in a dream. During the day, lying in his hospital bed, he can't move, of course. But at night he dreams that he's whole again, and is able to do anything and go everywhere. This is someone who had been a lifelong sailor, and who had always loved the water, and he had a beautiful gaff-rigged sloop. Not like my boat, the Sea Angel, which was modern and made of fiberglass. In the story the boat is a great old wooden beauty, whose varnish gleams in the moonlight.

In his dream he sails down the path of a full moon, and there's a gentle breeze, perfect conditions-the kind of romantic night sailing that anyone can imagine. But by seven in the morning, he's back in his bed in the rehab hospital and everything is frozen again.

The dream is very vivid. And as time passes it becomes even more vivid. At first it's just a dream, and he recognizes it as such. But ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
People Magazine

A bold memoir that unflinchingly shares the Superman star's life before and after a riding accident left him paralyzed--but not defeated.

Library Journal

This unique story, although regrettably short, is a winner. Warmly recommended for general audiences.

Publishers Weekly

No doubt, Reeve is "still me" but readers of his beautifully composed book will see that he is now also more - that through nearly unimaginable suffering and effort, he has transformed a charmed life into one blessed to be a true profile in courage.

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