Review — Nonfiction — The Time of My Life

Synopsis from Goodreads—

In a career spanning more than thirty years, Patrick Swayze has made a name for himself on the stage, the screen, and television. Known for his versatility, passion and fearlessness, he’s become one of our most beloved actors.

But in February 2008, Patrick announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Always a fighter, he refused to let the disease bring him to his knees, and his bravery has inspired both his legion of fans and cancer patients everywhere. Yet this memoir, written with wisdom and heart, recounts much more than his bout with cancer. In vivid detail, Patrick describes his Texas upbringing, his personal struggles, his rise to fame with North and South, his commercial breakthroughs in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and the soul mate who’s stood by his side through it all: his wife, writer and director Lisa Niemi.

A behind-the-scenes look at a Hollywood life and a remarkable love, this memoir is both entertainment and inspiration. Patrick and Lisa’s marriage is a journey of two lives intertwined and lived as one–throughout their years in Hollywood and at home on their working ranch outside Los Angeles, and culminating in the hope and wisdom they’ve imparted to all who know them. This book will open the door for families, individuals, and husbands and wives to grow, bond and discover entirely new levels of love and sharing, proving that life shouldn’t be lived as a series of endings, but rather as the beginning of greater strength and love.

For the month of February, I wanted to read something that reflected true love, and in a somewhat round-about way, The Time of My Life delivered.

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Patrick Swayze, dating back to the first time I saw him in a little movie called The Outsiders when I was a teen.  I loved watching him in the wide array of roles he played over the years.  But one thing that always intrigued me was his low-key, longtime marriage to Lisa Niemi.

The two met at Swayze’s mother’s dance studio when they were teens, and while I won’t say it was love at first sight, there was obviously something there that kept these two in contact with each other, eventually moving to New York together to pursue their dancing ambitions.  Swayze recounts their struggles, both professionally and personal, and it’s obvious with every passage he writes about her how much he truly loved and admired Lisa.

A couple of things though.  The cover may fool you into thinking this was written by both Patrick and Lisa.  It is not.  Lisa does contribute a two or three page introduction, but this book is all Patrick (even to the point where I could hear his slight southern drawl narrating in my head as I read).  This is not only their story; the bulk focuses on Patrick’s story, some of the bad but mostly the good.  I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peeks he offered from some of his works, including Red Dawn and North and South.  

And while I knew going into this that he wasn’t going to divulge a bunch of gossipy or bad stuff (it was written during the last year of his cancer battle), I was kind of hoping that at some point he would own up to some of his mistakes, including his problems with alcohol.  Certain things were mentioned, but almost as an afterthought, and he seemed to be a bit dismissive a couple of times as to the effects of his actions on his marriage and how much they really hurt Lisa.

But overall, I enjoyed this book.  And I highly recommend watching the television special, I Am Patrick Swayze, as a companion piece to the book.  The show aired August of 2019 on Paramount network and I’m sure it’s somewhere in the internet universe.  The raw emotions from not only Lisa but close friends and family, even 10 years after his death, will show how special this down-to-earth, ambitious, and loving man was.


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