Family Don’t End with Blood: How Supernatural Has Changed Lives
Edited by Lynn Zubernis, Released May 9, 2017
When one thinks of Supernatural or the SPN Family that has formed around it, many thoughts can come to mind. No matter your thoughts or opinions on various seasons, characters, story-lines, or more, it is the fandom community that has really and truly made this show special. The television series may be the common bond that drew every fan or cast member providing a story in this book together, but it is the bonds of humanity that really keep them together for life. Supernatural, as a television series, has changed lives. It has provided inspiration, escapism, and good storytelling that allows us to face our own inner demons. It has given us a chance to see the world differently, awakening passions in us that we may not have realized we possessed.
What we find in Family Don't End With Blood is the essence of the show and the fandom that surrounds it distilled to its very best. It gives us a real glimpse and a real understanding as to why so many fans have lasted with the series for well over a decade. It explores the beautiful relationships that the cast has built first as fellow cast members and through the convention circuit that has formed around the series. We have stories of triumph and defeat, hope and despair, joy and sorrow, and everything in between. We have people at their highest and their lowest---sometimes all within the same essay. Many of the essays discuss the reasons why the show drew them in and kept them there---and why the fandom that they found is the real reason they stayed. It's a snapshot of what the power of our combined goodness and humanity can really bring to the world---a hopeful glimpse of what the world could really be if we simply got out of our own way and accepted one another who we really are---warts and all.
There are some essays, on a personal level, that really stick out to me from this book. Some are by cast, some are by fan, but all of them are by SPN Family---my family by choice. Some of them I know well and some I've never heard of before. Some are close friends. Others are cast that I admire. Those essays that stuck out to me most are: "The Road So Far" by Laurena Aker (aka The WFB's "Nightsky"), "Wayward AF" by Kim Rhodes, "Stroke of Luck" by Rob Benedict, "Choosing Life" by Burner Cade, and "What Does the Fandom Mean to Me" by Jared Padalecki. Each one has equal value in my mind for various reasons. The sheer honesty, the emotion, the courage, the triumph over tragedy, the commitment to making the world better no matter the struggle---all these things stick out in each of these essays---as they do in all of them in this book.
I want to call out two by the cast and two by fans in this list in particular: "Stroke of Luck" by Rob Benedict and "What Does Fandom Mean to Me" by Jared Padalecki. I also want to call out Laurena Aker's piece and Burner Cade's.
First, Rob Benedict. His piece was powerful and personal for me. My mother had a stroke at a very young age in a time before the life saving medicine that prevented the most damage. She has had the mark of that stroke on her since the last 70s. Reading about Rob's story and how traumatic it was and how much more it could have been drew me closer to Rob instantly. He was candid, real, and fearless in telling us the truth unblemished. I felt so compelled that once I finished the book I told my mother immediately that one essay in it had been written for HER. Rob's piece captured what happened to her and yet it captured what could have been had the medicine been there. It is a powerful story that shows that despite the darkest hours of our lives, there is hope. I want to thank Rob for that personally. I think it's imperative that his story and my mother's show the world true courage.
Second, Jared's story broke my heart. I found myself nodding and smiling in the beginning, sharing in that 80s child experience that we both share. The joy at following those cartoons (I am gleeful that we both watched He-Man) and the journey he took to acting at such an early age struck me. I recognized in him the sheer drive to be responsible for everything---the fear of letting anyone down and trying to push myself when I probably shouldn't. My heart ached for him as he talked about his struggle to just keep pushing. While some may disparage his honesty because of his status as a lead on a TV show, his candidness gave me a glimpse into some of my own struggle---one that we share in a way but never the same way. His breaking point and the struggle he endured while in its midst shocked me and made me feel deeply for him. The fact that he had come so close to doing something that could never be undone is astonishing. Even more so, however, is his willingness to get back up and keep fighting anyways. By the end, I felt that I really understand now why he dubbed us SPN Family. We helped him and gave him the space he needed when he needed it most--only to welcome him back after. His courage is a powerful reminder.
I call out Laurena Aker's essay because she's a personal friend of mine and I am so proud of her story. She captured what some of my own feelings about being a fan mean. While I've never been a corporate person or in a big time career---or a mother---as she is, I relate to her struggle to accept her fannish ways. I recognize that confusion and the joy at finally accepting what it means and how it can cause one to take risks. I feel, as I transition slowly into my next career, that I'm following a bit in her footsteps. I'm hoping that I will be half as successful.
And finally, Burner Cade's story resonated because I can relate to feeling trapped. I feel that way a lot these days and I know that there's hope even when it seems darkest. Burner was brave to put this out there---and tell us how powerful our show and fandom truly can be. Her ability to fight back against the darkest of moments and find a reason to continue---no matter what anyone might think of it---shows real strength that I hope to rely on in my own struggles. I hope to find inspiration when I need it most in this particular essay. I thank her for reminding me that when I don't want to fight any more that there is something worth fighting for---that only the best things are worth that effort.
The other essays are just as powerful. They stand as a testament to our very best---not just of SPN Family but of humanity. Mark Sheppard reminds us to never give up---even when this time we live in seems darkest. Matt Cohen tells us to be ourselves. We hear about how fandom has built a mighty and powerful community that gives us all a refuge. I think we all may need it now more than ever---even if someday the show may end, I pray that we'll always have that fandom to turn to when we need that inspiration.
I want to thank Lynn Zubernis for putting this book together. It is a love letter to my fandom and it reminds me that I belong to a select but large SPN Family. It means more than you'll ever know.
Family Don’t End with Blood: How Supernatural Has Changed Lives
"In 25 powerful chapters written by Supernatural’s actors and fans, including series lead Jared Padalecki, Family Don’t End with Blood: How Supernatural Has Changed Lives examines the far reach of the show’s impact over the last 12 years. Supernatural has inspired fans to change their lives, from getting “sober for Sam” to escaping a cult to pursuing lifelong dreams. But fans aren’t the only ones who have been changed. The actors who bring the show to life have also found, in the show and its community, inspiration, courage, and the strength to keep going when life seemed too hard.
Contributions from Supernatural cast members include essays by Jared Padelecki, Rob Benedict, Jim Beaver, Ruth Connell, and more, with special messages from Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Mark Sheppard."
Published by Smart Pop
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This book review has also been posted on Goodreads.