It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since we received the shocking news that beloved actor Luke Perry had passed away unexpectedly due to a stroke. The moment I saw the TMZ article confirming his death, I shared my grief with my coworkers, feeling as though a part of my childhood had died that day. Even now, I feel emotional thinking about the missed opportunity to meet this man and share my appreciation for his immense talent and the joy he brought to many of us millennials throughout the years.

This book, A Good Bad Boy, begins at that exact moment, when the author, Margaret Wappler, hears the news of Perry’s passing. Throughout the book, she discusses the profound impact of Perry’s death and draws parallels to her own experiences with grief and her father’s departure from her life. Wappler then weaves in Luke’s story, sharing personal anecdotes with insightful interviews to offer readers a glimpse into the multifaceted persona of the beloved actor, known for his portrayal of moody, bad-boy Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210.

At the heart of this book lies a contemplation of Perry’s life beyond the glitz of Hollywood. Despite being considered a heartthrob, Perry never let his stardom get to his head. This humility may have been partly due to Perry’s humble beginnings in Mansfield, Ohio. Despite his fame, Perry remained grounded and fiercely protective of his private life, a trait instilled in him by his tumultuous upbringing marked by his father’s abuse and subsequent divorce.

Readers journey with Perry to Hollywood, CA, where he initially bombs his auditions. The network did not want Luke, as he lacked acting experience, but Aaron Spelling was won over by Perry’s charisma, magnetic presence, and James Dean style. Spelling was so sure that Perry was the right man for the job that he even offered to pay his salary for each episode out of his pocket.

Spelling’s hunch was spot on. Beverly Hills, 90210 became a mega-hit in the early ’90s, and Luke Perry quickly became a teen heartthrob. Following his tenure on the show, Perry pursued a variety of roles across genres in film, television, and theater. While he often played characters with elements of his trademark charisma and charm, Perry also sought to showcase his versatility as an actor by taking on roles outside of the moody, bad-boy persona that made him a household name in the early ’90s.

Perry emerged not just as a teen idol but as a devoted family man, professional actor, and mentor. From his unwavering support for his young co-stars to his cherished moments as a father, it’s easy to see why so many of his Hollywood peers and audiences admired Luke Perry.

The author explains her unique approach of sharing parallel stories of her life and Luke’s biography. Wappler’s unconventional approach to Perry’s biography sheds light on the man behind the icon, emphasizing his desire to be remembered for his kindness rather than his on-screen persona. It also reminds readers of the nostalgia and emotional connection we form through the admiration of our generation’s entertainers and our personal stories of growth, loss, and understanding of the world around us.

As a fan, I appreciate the author’s hybrid approach of weaving her personal story into Perry’s biography. Some readers may feel they’re missing details on Perry’s personal life, but the author explains that she decided to share her story out of respect for how guarded Perry was about his own story. While I’d love to know more about Luke’s life story, I can respect his wish to keep his personal life private.

The author also shares essays that reflect the era in which we all fell in love with Luke Perry. It brings back the nostalgia of the ’90s and reminds readers of the emotional bond we form with our generation’s entertainers.