four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
25-Nov-Dec-2006
By: 
Tim Madigan
user_rating: 
0

My Friendship with Fred Rogers

A-I’m Proud of YouFred Rogers, host of the popular children’s television show, died in 2003, but, according to Tim Madigan, his "human greatness … on the order of spiritual icons like Mother Teresa" lives on. Madigan first met Rogers in 1995, when he was writing a piece on him for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Awed by Rogers’s goodness, Madigan, who was then depressed, dealing with his brother’s illness, and headed for divorce, started to confide in the television icon. Thus began a seven-year friendship in which Rogers helped Madigan address his spiritual and emotional crises. Though e-mails, letters, and personal meetings, he gave Madigan the sense of pride he had lacked as a child. I’m Proud of You recounts this intense relationship—one born from grief, strength, and great faith in friendship.
Gotham. 208 pages. $20. ISBN: 1592402275

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"In this spiritual memoir about his friendship with Fred Rogers, the luminous sage of children’s television, Tim Madigan comes awfully close to calling Mister Rogers a second Christ. … The rare face-to-face scenes contain the book’s most delightful moments, offsetting the author’s schmaltzier instincts and letting the otherworldly goodness of Mister Rogers shine through." Brendan Vaughan

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"Madigan brings out the reciprocity in the relationship. … In writing about his attempts to learn to cry, Madigan skirts sentimentality." Christine Jacques

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There are lots of inspirational messages throughout, and Madigan begins to get downright reverential, almost to an uncomfortable degree. … But it is also a loving testament to the power of friendship and to a most remarkable man." Caroline Leavitt

Minneapolis Star Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"If you already thought [Mr. Rogers] was saintly, wait until you read this. If you thought he was saintly to the point of being a little creepy, you might think again." Sarah T. Williams

Critical Summary

The title of this memoir derives from Tim Madigan’s request to Mister Rogers: "Will you be proud of me?" Rogers said yes, of course, and thanked Madigan for "offering so much of yourself to me." Although I’m Proud of You could have fallen into Hallmark treacle, it instead compassionately recounts the spiritual friendship that developed between the two men and offers a portrait of Rogers’s exemplary character. Especially poignant are Madigan’s recounting of his personal visits with Rogers and his difficult relationship with his brother. "It’s here that Madigan writes most powerfully, with raw, universal emotion," notes the New York Times Book Review. Even if the memoir’s message is familiar (a few critics compared the book to Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie), it is an inspiration on many levels.