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‘Family Don’t End with Blood:’ Book Review

One never quite knows when something will change their life. We all have those moments, whether good or bad, but sometimes the cause of the change can be quite surprising. But, a fictional television show? How could that ever impact anyone in a meaningful way? This is the topic of Family Don’t End with Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives (edited by superfan Lynn S. Zubernis).

Supernatural (SPN) is not an ordinary TV show. My oldest son had talked about it to me for years, and yeah, I usually enjoyed those types of shows, but as a mom of two adult children, I really couldn’t take one more show with good-looking “kids” – who I found out were a lot closer to my age than I thought – and a bunch of teenage drama.

By the end of Season 10, I gave into my son’s desperate pleas to watch the show. That was it for me. I found a show that altered my life in a deep way, almost from the get-go. I found characters I could relate to more than any others (and, as a writer, I live with lots of imaginary friends). I listened to Dean’s famous speech on family over and over and over again – it being my lifeline to how I have felt my whole life. And, I certainly can’t listen to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor without seeing Dean lip-synching to it.

What was so profound, though, was when I read about actor Jared Padalecki’s personal struggles. His “Always Keep Fighting” campaign to bring awareness to depression and mental illness made me realize I wasn’t alone in my own recent diagnosis. That’s what first helped me understand that these actors were different. They were real people with real problems and the ordinary fan could relate to each of them in many ways. They could touch our – the fans – lives, and we could touch theirs. SPN was no longer a television show for me.

Family Don’t End with Blood captures that aspect of the SPN fandom. It explains quite succinctly how this one television show has changed so many lives. Not just of fans, but of actors, too. The compilation of stories by actors and fans brings SPN to life like nothing else, and it connects the fans to the actors in such a unique way.

That editor Lynn S. Zubernis also found herself whisked under the tides of fandom makes the book even that more special. Her introduction is a fascinating story of what happens when a fictional world becomes real in a person’s life. And, since she’s a clinical psychologist, it also means the rest of us aren’t atypical for loving the show and characters the way we do. Her personal story made me laugh, smile, and nod my head a lot. I believe it is the perfect way to start a book about a television show changing lives – I just don’t think non-SPN people would understand it any other way.

The stories told in the book aren’t touching. They are reach-deep-inside-and-pull-out-every-emotion gut-wrenchingly touching. There are plenty of ugly cry moments: stories of cancer, cults, strokes, and debilitating depression. There are times when you don’t know how in the world the person telling the tale survived. And, then it’s explained: Supernatural. Time and again, the show did something for which it was never intended. It forever altered a person’s destiny.

While the contents of the book are astounding, the cover cannot be overlooked. A beautiful illustration by Christine Griffin that so carefully and lovingly captures the likeness of our favorite hunters leaning against the only car that matters in the world adorns the front of the book. It’s definitely a book you’ll want facing forward on your bookshelf!

Fans everywhere will enjoy this book. Superfans will revel in it. Those of us who have been changed by the show – those who can point to that one specific scene or line that – we will truly and fundamentally get this compilation. Because, above everything else it accomplishes, Family Don’t End with Blood connects every member of the Supernatural family to one another, letting them know they are not alone, and to Always Keep Fighting.


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