There’ll Be Peace When You are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural is the sequel to the popular Supernatural cast and fan anthology, Family Don’t End With Blood. Like its predecessor, “There’ll Be Peace” shares testimonials on how Supernatural has dramatically changed people’s lives. Timed to coincide with Supernatural’s series finale date (originally, May, 2020), it was created to give fans an outlet for their grief at losing the show, plus answer the question of Supernatural’s lasting legacy. Despite these two ambitious themes (which are addressed by every chapter), what I’ll remember from “There’ll Be Peace” isn’t really about either of these topics. Instead, what struck me most about There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done is that it is filled with what I’ll call “quiet” stories. I don’t mean to imply these stories are unimportant or in any way “less than” but rather that they are stories you wouldn’t normally hear.
We all clamor to read every tiny morsel of information about the lives of the lead or popular, recurring Supernatural actors. Theirs are public lives, so, for better or worse, their histories, struggles, triumphs, mistakes and life aspirations are all well documented. Even so, we never tire of reading their perspectives on the show they've created for 15 years, so "There'll Be Peace" includes reflective chapters from Jared and Jensen, plus a message from Misha (who was precluded from writing more because he was busy with his own book at the time).
"There'll Be Peace" goes beyond the headliners, though. The majority of the actors and fans who share their personal journeys in “There’ll Be Peace” are people who have otherwise blended into the background of our lives. I can’t presume to guess what went through the minds of the authors as they documented their most personal moments, but I got the distinct feeling while reading each of their stories that they were saying, ‘Thank you for asking what I think and how I’m doing. I don’t usually get asked that. The bigger stars, the more active fans, the outgoing personalities – they’re the ones who usually get people’s attention. Thank you for noticing me and giving me a chance to tell my story.” Of course, that’s not the case for all of the first-time contributors. Some of the actors have had long careers; some of the fans are quite well known in the fandom. Still, I sensed that the thoughts and feelings being shared had previously only been known to the few confidants each author trusts with their vulnerability.
More so than Family Don’t End With Blood, "There'll Be Peace" gives voice to those who aren’t usually acknowledged. I guess that’s truly the definition of the under-represented. With intent, “There’ll Be Peace” includes a diverse group of authors, many of whom are in under-represented groups. Several self-identify with the LGBTQ community. Others are people of color, or live with visible or invisible disabilities. Some are hetero-normative people who are trying to carve a space in this world that truly reflects who they are, while others are academics who offer insightful analysis of the diversity in Supernatural. In a subtle way, all their stories challenged me to rethink my life’s paradigms.
For example, one common theme of the book was how a day, a week, or a few weeks (for those lucky enough to get a recurring role) spent on Supernatural’s set profoundly impacted these actors. Intellectually, we know they had “small parts” in the show (see Brendan Taylor’s thoughts on this term), but they’ve been immortalized in episodes we’ve rewatched countless times. They landed a role in (or writing for, in Davy Perez’ case) a show we revere, so I never saw them as anything other than famous, talented and successful. It caught me off guard to hear them confess that Supernatural came into many of their lives when they were at their lowest point professionally or personally – a common testimonial I hear repeatedly from fans but never really applied to those who play in the magical world of television. For some, it bolstered their career or gave them the confidence to continue, but for others the impact was only a reassurance that they were doing something they loved, even if it wasn’t always paying the bills. Supernatural’s lightning flashed at precisely the right moment in their lives to expel the darkness of their doubts, and spark a fiery passion for their true self.
“There’ll Be Peace” gifted me with intimate details of emotional journeys from perspectives vastly different than mine. I didn’t agree with everything that was said, but it wasn’t my job to judge or agree or disagree. Rather, I listened - the first step in respecting and understanding. My insight into the tenet that people are all the same underneath – that we all struggle, fear failure, get scared, feel isolated, long for support, get depressed and have to accept that sometimes our best is all we have to give – was deepened in ways I didn’t know were lacking.
The chapters in “There’ll Be Peace” are fairly short, so they are fast and easy to read. The shortest chapter is only 3.5 pages long. The average chapter length might be about 7 pages. I did get teary with Jared’s chapter, and, of all things, the introduction from the book's editor, Dr. Lynn Zubernis, but overall the book wasn’t an emotional ringer for me. I expect the book will strike each reader differently, depending on where they recognize themselves in its pages. Because of its deeply personal content, I’m not going to summarize individual chapters or highlight key phrases to tease the content or pique your interest. Each chapter expresses a distinct voice, a unique history, and it seems disingenuous, and contrary to the entire spirit of the book, to reduce the authors’ life experiences to a single, pithy phrase, no matter how poignantly insightful it might be. I underlined certain sentences in my copy that particularly struck me but the whole point of the book is that we need to embrace our own uniqueness. You should discover on your own what phrases speak to you.
For me, it expanded my understanding, and I think that’s quite enough as the legacy of a book about Supernatural.
I interviewed the editor of There'll Be Peace When You are Done, Dr. Lynn Zubernis, soon after completing this review. We discussed the events that led to publishing another book with Supernatural's cast, how she came to know the stories included in the book, what she hoped fans would get out of reading peoples' experiences with the show, and much more. Stay tuned!
If you've already read the "There'll Be Peace", please share your reactions to the book in the comments below. If you haven't yet picked it up, "There'll Be Peace When You Are Done" can be purchased through a link in WFB's Supernatural Marketplace (a portion of the sale through our page supports The WFB!) or at PeaceWhenYouAreDone.com.
Full disclosure: I know the editor and five of the fan authors personally.
Dr. Lynn Zubernis can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @Fangasmspn.
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