PUBLICATION DATE: MAY 8, 2012
long the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son
long the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son, is a, not often heard of, father and son dual memoir. Hope Edelman takes on the task of not just one famed person to tell their story, yet two, father and son?Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, and does so in such a way that you feel you’ve been invited into a behind-the-scenes look at icons of the Hollywood industry.
Emilio Estevez takes turn one in these alternating chapters, beginning in the French Pyrenees on a day meant to scout out the location for his latest movie, The Way, in which he directs and stars with his real-life father, Martin Sheen. If you’ve seen this movie and you think because the book starts out ‘on location’ of said movie, and that the book will deal heavily with the making of that movie, you will be sadly mistaken. This book is exactly what the title says, a journey of a father and son, but not ‘that’ journey, per se.
Chapter two is Martin Sheen’s turn to start reminiscing as you travel all the way back to his early childhood and his fond memories of his father and mother and life growing up in Dayton, Ohio. Martin leaves nothing out as he fondly recalls the strong family history he has with roots in Spain on his father’s side and Ireland on his mother’s side. With his mother dying at the early age of 48, Martin’s father is left to raise 10 children on his own from the time Martin was eleven years old. Much of the early part of this memoir reads more autobiographically leaving fans of the actor knowing just about every aspect that could be known of his young life.
Emilio, the oldest of Martins four children, steps in again and begins revealing to us what it’s like to be the child of a struggling, would-be young actor barely in his twenties. For fans thinking that the ‘Sheen’ children were born with silver spoons in their mouths, Emilio goes to great lengths to clear up that misnomer right away. Life as a young boy, being uprooted from one movie location to another, was the ‘norm’ for this family. Early struggles of little furniture, little food, working jobs between casting calls, were clearly made evident to the reader yet always overshadowed by the one thing that is woven throughout the entire book. Family!
As the book weaves its way in and out of life through the eyes of Martin Sheen and then his son, Emilio Estevez, you’re swept away, just as the Sheen family is, to faraway places that sometimes prove wonderful, while other times, a hardship that takes its toll on the family. Hope Edelman is masterful at taking stories told to her by the main characters and building around them a picture-perfect step back in time. Along The Way traces life for this family from the earliest of onstage performances of Martin Sheen such as The Subject Was Roses in New York to the Philippines where the widely acclaimed movie, Apocalypse Now, was made. Family trips to trace their roots in Spain, as well as their roots in Ireland are powerfully described for the reader. Emilio’s journey into adulthood is depicted in his own chapters which seem to take him on a concordant direction as his Father’s life, as he himself begins his career as an actor but also, in his own rite, a filmmaker and director.
Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez hold nothing back in this book. Honesty and openness is apparent from the very first chapter. If you think you know this family from what you’ve seen and heard in today’s media, you will be pleasantly surprised to see many myths go right down the drain. Every hardship is discussed in detail and in such a candid manner; the reader may be left feeling almost like an intruder into personal matters we shouldn’t be privy to.
Along The Way is not only the journey of this particular father and son, but a journey they take with their own failures and accomplishments as Martin reflects on his Father, and Emilio reflects on his children. This book also delves into the spiritual journey that they both find themselves on. Martin’s years of being away from the Catholic Church happily has him coming back to his faith that grounds him to clarity of mind and purpose in life. Emilio, while never embracing the Catholic faith, much to his father’s chagrin, does dig deep into his own personal reflections on where he’s at in his spiritual walk in finding his own purpose and place on earth. Earth would be a key word for him as it’s working in this great creation we call earth where he finds himself most at peace in his vineyard and garden.
For fans of Martin Sheen, who love his movies and television work, this book is for you. For fans of Emilio Estevez who love his movies and directorial work, this book is for you, too. While I feel that sometimes the book is a little too wordy in telling us every detail about almost every movie, fans may love that aspect. There is some minor profanity but I didn’t find it annoyingly so. Some references are made regarding pre-marital relationships but it’s done so in an effort to be upfront and honest. I found myself closing out the book feeling happy that Martin has found his niche in life and he is at peace. For Emilio, he’s getting there. You can’t walk away from this book not feeling like this is one well grounded and loving father and son relationship.