Some children lead extraordinary lives because of their great intellectual gifts or performance in the face of adversity. Helen Keller and Anne Frank come to mind. Other children linger in our collective consciousness because of their ability to leverage charisma. Shirley Temple, for example, or Michael Jackson (circa 1971).
But most of us spend our childhood in ordinary fashion, in the grip of our parents, attempting to obey, circumnavigate or flaunt their rules. Our adolescent accomplishments and failures are commonplace -- of interest, in most instances, only to our families and close friends.
And that’s a good thing. Childhood, after all, remains the time we attempt to forge identity. We flop around a lot and do silly and sometimes inappropriate things. If we are lucky, that behavior remains unnoticed by most of the world and forgiven by those closest to us.
Bristol Palin was a child whose behavior was noticed by much of the world. Her story is undoubtedly familiar to most: In 2008, at the age of 17, with her mother the GOP nominee for vice president, she was paraded in front of the nation, pregnant and unmarried but engaged to Levi Johnston, the baby’s father. Her son Tripp was born later that year. Bristol and Johnston broke up in 2009 and got back together, briefly, in 2010. Last fall, Bristol became a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” (and placed third with her partner, not bad for a girl who played basketball and football -- that’s right, football -- and ran track in her younger days). In December, she bought a home in Arizona.
Now Bristol has written a book “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far,” with Nancy French. It’s not a particularly well-written book (too many exclamation points, among other sins) and the anecdotes within speak to a pretty ordinary childhood -- until the national spotlight/pregnancy thing.