Family Don’t End With Blood

Family Don’t End With Blood is a book I had to have as soon as I heard it was coming out. I did a little review for Amazon, but after my article I wrote for Supernatural Day, 5 Lessons I learned From Supernatural, Lynn contacted me on Twitter asking me to do a review. Yes it’s been a while, but better late than never though.

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My comments I added on Amazon

The first thing you notice about the book is that profits go to mental health awareness charities and to Random Act’s (a charity founded by Misha Collins). I think that’s awesome that this fandom has such an emphasis on charity work that the publisher decided to donate money to these charities. I think it’s also so great to see that this fandom has done so much for mental health awareness through the actors and fans being open about their struggles. It’s also great to see that Random Acts was also donated to, because this charity got started because Misha wanted to spread good, and it all started because he was an actor on Supernatural. Right away it’s obvious to see how unique this fandom is by just noticing the charities this book donates to.

This book is just so amazing. I felt so much love after reading this book. Both cast and fans wrote how Supernatural and the fandom has helped them. I think it’s just such a testament to how special the show is that even actors wrote about how this fandom has helped them. It’s just moving to see how this fandom has helped the actors, not just the fans. Most fandoms usually do impact fans, but rarely the actors feel such a strong connection to the fandom, but in the SPNFamily the actors are just as impacted as the fans.

It was also great to see a book published about how fandom can help people. I feel that many times “non nerds” or “non fandom” people often times put nerds or people into fandom down for being so passionate about something they love or for using a show, movie, etc. to motivate them. This book shows how strong these people are and it’s okay to need help, and it’s okay to use fandom to help you.

I loved seeing everyone so open and honest about their struggles. I feel like today, especially with social media we often only see the best view of someone. Every only posts the good things like vacations, work promotions, weddings, etc. No one wants to post about financial struggles or mental heath problems, so to see people being so open about how they’ve struggled, but how they’re overcoming those struggles was so great to see, because it shows people you’re not alone, and there is hope.

Actors Contributions

Many actors from the show wrote essays or chapters about how the fandom changed their life. Here are my top actor chapters/essays:

Kim Rhodes

Kim’s chapter really touched me. Here is a woman who is so strong, smart, kind, and badass. She shows people how to be a strong woman and a strong person. She shows how to be yourself, in a society that’s telling you to be something else. I loved that her chapter was about that. About her allowing herself to be herself. About her finding happiness after going through so much darkness in her life.

Thank you Kim for this chapter. I’ve gone through some unhappy times, and you’ve given me hope that I will find my happiness one day. Thank you for showing me to be myself and be a badass. Thank you for showing me WaywardAF!

Rob Benedict

Rob’s chapter sticks out to me the most, because Rob is a living example of the power of the SPNFamily and how this fandom really is a family.

Rob talks about his stroke, and how his fellow cast family helped save him. Rob talks about how Rich knew something was wrong with him and knew he had to do something. Rich then gets Misha to take a look at Rob. Misha who knew the signs of a stroke, knew Rob was showing signs, and they needed to get him to the hospital. In the hospital Rich, Misha, and Jensen, all stayed to help get Rob’s family there and helped do whatever they could to get Rob’s family to him and helped him, so Rob didn’t have to go through it alone.

The point of me saying all this isn’t to retell Rob’s story. It’s to show you how special this cast is. What other cast can tell by a phone call something is wrong? Then once the cast all helps that person get to the hospital, they don’t just leave. Instead they stay to make sure he’s not going through this alone and make phone calls to make sure the people he needed there got there. The cast all made sure he was okay and sent him messages of love and support.

This cast rallied at a time when their friend needed them most. If Rich hadn’t called, what would have happened to Rob? I teared up reading this chapter, because it just struck me how this fandom really has become so close that it rallied around someone who needed them. As soon as I read this chapter I ran upstairs to tell my mom about it, because I was so struck by this story. I knew Rob had a stroke, but I didn’t know the whole story.

Rob’s stroke story is something that is the epitome of the SPNFamily and what we can do when we band together.

Jared Padalecki

Jared has helped me so much. If it weren’t for his Always Keep Fighting Campaigns I would have never have had the idea or courage to do something about my mental health problems, but I have now thanks to him. I was curious to what he was going to write about, and hearing him really go in to detail about him cancelling at jibcon in 2015 and hearing what he was going through broke my heart. But hearing how he had people to help him and he fought his way back to getting himself better really was awesome to see. It showed me life will tear you down, but you have to fight back, and you can fight back and win. I loved how real and how open Jared was about it, and I think it’s great that he feels comfortable enough to share that, because mental health isn’t something people want to talk about, so thank you Jared for doing that.

Also hearing more about the Always Keep Fighting campaigns really touched me since these campaigns mean a lot to me and to many other people. These campaigns really show how special this fandom is because not many people want to be open about mental health problems, but Jared was with us, and his story has helped so many fans, which is just so wonderful.

Jared’s best quote I think was “Its not about being perfect. It’s about doing the best you can, and understanding that you will falter.” This is something I need to remind myself of. No human will be perfect. That’s impossible. But you have to try your best and just learn from your mistakes.

Misha Collins

Misha is my favorite of the whole cast and even though he’s really goofy and weird, he’s also incredibly thoughtful and intelligent, so I was interested to hear what he had to say. Misha mentions how people identify with certain actors or characters on the show and how they have helped them. This is so true for me. I’ve learned so much from the characters, if that wasn’t already clear by the fact I wrote an article for it. I see parts of myself in Sam, Dean, and Cas, and I whenever I’m feeling like I’m failing, I try to keep fighting like they do and never give up.

But I’ve probably learned more from the actors. I’ve learned so much from Misha about being kind and embracing my weirdness, and I’ve learned so much from the all the other cast too, so I just really loved him saying people connect with the actors or characters because it’s so true for me. And I think it’s great that the actors recognize that fans identify with the characters, and they understand that these characters are more than just characters to us, and often you don’t see actors making that connection with fans, but these actors do.

Many more actors wrote about how fandom has changed them like Jensen Ackles wrote about how fandom has helped him come out of his shell. I’ve seen some photo ops from the earlier days of the conventions, and he doesn’t look nearly as comfortable as he does now with fans. He hugs them and talks to them, and on stage he’s much more relaxed and open with us. It’s just so cool to see how this show and this fandom have really helped change someone and helped them be more open and more comfortable.

Just seeing how all the cast have thanked the fans for giving them an opportunity to be a part of the show was incredible, because you don’t often see actors being so thankful for fans. Sure actors appreciate their fans and are glad they have the support, but this cast really takes their love for their fans to a whole new level, because the fans and this community are so unique that it really has changed and impacted the actors. Seeing the actors being impacted by the fandom was so wonderful to see, since usually impact isn’t a two way street, but in this fandom, it is.

Fans Contributions

I loved seeing fans express how much this fandom has helped them overcome obstacles and make friends in this fandom. Seeing how fans related to a certain actor or character, and seeing how that actor or character helped them, was so amazing to see. Here are my top fan chapters:

Claudine Hummel

Claudine wrote about Misha, and how Misha has helped her. I knew I would love her chapter after reading the first sentence, “Misha Collins is so unassumingly good he makes you want to be a better person.” This sentence could not be more true. Misha has inspired me to be a better person in so many ways, and I’ve done so many things, because of how Misha has inspired, me I knew this was a chapter that would hold a special place in my heart.

I have done so much because of Misha. I have been more of an activist, I’ve done more charity work, and I’ve become a more open-minded person. One of the GISHWHES items this years was about overcoming your own prejudices and I’ve overcome some of mine because of Misha. Because I wanted to be more open-minded like him.

It’s not just me though. So many people have been inspired to be more kind, more charitable, to care more and do more, because of Misha. Misha doesn’t just do good. He inspires everyone around him to be better. He has given this fandom a place in the record books through GISHWHES and has shown us simple it is to be kind and make a difference to someone or the world, while also showing us it’s okay to be weird and be different.

Thank you, Misha!

Claudine talks about how Castiel has inspired her to keep going, because that’s what Castiel does. He’s always wants to do better, and no matter how poorly he’s screwed up, he tries to do better and just never gives up. This is such an important lesson. And one that I loved reading. I’ve always considered myself a persistent person and one who never gives, but sometimes I still need a reminder to keep going. This chapter and Cas are good reminders. Plus I’m Cas!girl, so seeing Cas get the love and praise he deserves.

Thank you Claudine for this beautiful chapter.

Karen Cookie

Karen talks about finding her tribe within fandom. I think this is something most people within fandom understand because often we are mocked by people who aren’t nerds or aren’t as passionate about TV shows, movies, comics, etc. who don’t understand our love or our connection with them. I loved this chapter because even though I only know one person in real life who watches Supernatural, I still love talking with people online about the show, and I love going to cons. I’ve been lucky enough to go to San Diego Comic Con a few times now and each time I go, I feel like I’m going home. I feel like I have found my people. My mom has even said “everyone here speaks the same language,” It’s true we all fangirl and fanboy together.

When Karen was talking about her experiences at cons I smiled reading it because I love going to cons for the same reasons- to geek out about nerdy things with “my people” and meet the people behind the worlds I love. Karen shows us that it’s not weird or lame to go to cons and find friendships within fandom or even start hobbies like photography because of them. I loved her talking about staring photography, because I have too because of this fandom.

Karen saying how she found herself again because of this fandom I think is something that I and many people identify with. I’ve started and rediscovered hobbies because of this fandom. This chapter just is a great example of how amazing fandom can be. It helps people meet people they never would have met and do things they never would have done.

Karen’s chapter was just so great to read and I found myself smiling during a lot of it.

Other fans wrote about struggles with mental health, problems with money or family, and battles with cancer, but somehow this show and their fellow fans and the actors helped these people find something in life to fight for. These people saved themselves, but they did it with the help and inspiration of the fandom. I think that was just so amazing to see these stories of these people struggling, but this fandom was more to them than a show- it was something to remind them that life is worth fighting for.

I could honestly write something about each chapter, but we’d be here until the end of season 13, and no one wants to be reading for that long so I’ll stop here. Each chapter touched me so much and really reminded me of how good fandom can be.

This fandom has helped me so much and I loved seeing it personified in the book. This fandom has helped me realize how much I love photography and writing. I’ve started to learn photography, started writing all the fanfic I’ve wanted to, I’ve started this blog, and I’m trying to become a writer for FANDOM. I’m thankful for SPN for helping show me again why I love writing.

It’s easy to see why this show has been on for 13 seasons, because even though we love the story of Sam, Dean, and Cas, we love each other as fans and actors, even more. Fans have developed close friendships, as have the actors on the show. There’s such a community here that you can really feel with this book. The love for the show and the impact it has made is prevalent in both actors and fans, which is unique, I think, and frankly, is what I love so much about this fandom.

This book illustrates to people who aren’t in fandom, just how much fandom can help people. It shows why certain shows mean so much to us and it’s so much more than just a TV show and these characters are so much more than “just characters.” Fandom is more than just a bunch of obsessed weirdos. It’s people inspiring one another to be the best versions of themselves and providing a crutch for when you need help. It helps form friendships and provides a way for people to try new things and express themselves in unique ways. Fandom provides us something to lean on in tough times and provides us lessons and examples of how to get through them. Fandom is so much more than just the TV show or movie it’s based off of.

I don’t know how long Lynn wanted this review to be, but this became more of something else, not just a review, I realize. I can post maybe the first couple of paragraphs on Goodreads later, since I was originally going to do a review there. However, I realized a quick review that’s two paragraphs on Goodreads, won’t really do the book justice. I will post something there, just so people can get a quick perspective, and not this long whatever-the-hell-this-is perspective.

Bottom line: Read this book. It will teach you so much about life, fandom, and family.

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