Enlightening personal history of identity, country and family.
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, War, History
No. of pages: 400
Magda Szubanski’s childhood in a suburban migrant family was haunted by the demons of her father’s life in wartime Poland. At nineteen, fighting in the Warsaw resistance, he had been recruited to a secret counter-intelligence execution squad. His mission was to assassinate Polish traitors who were betraying Jewish citizens to the Nazis. The legacy of her father’s bravery left the young Magda with profound questions about her family story.
As she grew up, the assassin’s daughter had to navigate her own frailties and fears, including a lifelong struggle with weight gain and an increasing awareness of her own sexuality. With courage and compassion Szubanski’s memoir asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.
Magda Szubanskiis one of Australia’s best known and most loved performers. She appeared in a number of sketch comedy shows before creating the iconic character of Sharon in ABC-TV’s Kath and Kim. She has also acted in films (Babe, Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, The Golden Compass) and stage shows. Reckoning is her first book.
Magda Szubanski is an impressive woman and a magnanimous writer. Her style is beautiful, melancholic, and haunting. I was bursting with pride and envy upon reading her memoir – her writing skills are first class.
I’m not big on memoirs or autobiographies, but frequently pepper them in my reading schedule because I like to take in a wide breath of writing styles and subjects. ‘Reckoning’ first attracted me because Magda has been the one Australian actress/comedian that has been a constant with me throughout my life. I was always amazed at her work, her humour, her skills in all the endeavours she put her hand to. Then as I started to get into the memoir, I discovered that we were kin on so many other levels. Her father is Polish and served – and survived – the war; my partner is part Polish, descendant from the royal family, and served in the NZSAS, and some of the atrocities he has lived through quite frankly scare the bejeezus out of me. Magda counts herself as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community as do I, and issues pertaining to identity, coming out, admonishing over labels and perception I can fully relate to. The loss of loved ones – check! And trying to navigate the world as a woman in male dominated industries… need I say more. Though in having said all that, ‘Reckoning’ heavily deals with history and identity of a country which was just about wiped off the face of the earth. A people who only have a history of pain, death, and displacement.
‘Reckoning’ is a lot to digest. It’s full of a time of humanity at its worst, mixed together with Magda coming to terms with her families role in that period, and, like a heavy sweater, something she drags around with her, trying to fit in today’s society. So I had to put this down a lot. It was emotional, difficult, and confronting subject matter. Distinctly Australian and nostalgic. But also triggering. It brought up all my insecurities again, as Magda faced hers, and had me reliving precious childhood memories that I don’t even have the opportunity of sharing with family again because they have all passed on.
We also get snippets of her professional acting career; and not really a behind the scenes feel, but a glimpse into her emotional and mental states around those events. I loved how this is not anything like the memoirs I’ve recently read from other famous female actors and comedians. In comparison those are fluffy, feel good pieces, where ‘Reckoning’ is a soulful powerhouse.
This memoir feels more like a love letter to her father, and the Polish people. It’s about her discovering her heritage and using that as a lens to confront her own identity. Though this writing was completely unexpected, I can say with all honesty this memoir is the best of this genre I have read to date. The only down side is that it may isolate some younger readers and can get a little bogged down in history. But this is definitely a memoir I will be recommending to everyone.
I was thinking over the BLM movement, and casting an eye back to an article I had written in 2014 regarding Indigenous characters in popular Australian YA fiction (you can read it here) and how the landscape has evolved recently.
This is not going to be an article on politics, or black deaths in custody, but rather what I have witnessed in the publishing landscape and my own personal experience throughout my reading lifetime around discrimination that has held back diversity.
It’s great to see POC representation much more prominent in today’s new releases. Diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation… it only serves to enrich and educate the reader. Which, apart from escapism, are the main reasons I read in the first place.
I still want to see more Australian Indigenous characters represented in our literature, particularly YA where we are introducing younger readers into literature.
In Australia, as in the US, only certain stories are allowed to take centre stage in our literary culture and the universal subject is still presumed to be a white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual and fully-abled male. The more deviations from this (limited and highly problematic) notion of personhood you possess, the more estranged from the centre you become.
“Thanks to a recent report from Macquarie University we know that within the genre of fiction in Australia, 65.2% of literary fiction writers, 76.2 % of genre fiction writers and 86.9% of children’s book authors are women. This makes those graphs showing that men get far more reviews than women all the more infuriating. But, as yet, we don’t have the figures for racial or ethnic diversity.
How many Indigenous writers are published each year? How many non-white writers are published? And what kinds of books are being published?
Part of this lack, I think, comes from constraints placed on writers who are “othered” by the industry. For example, I think that it is probably easier for an indigenous author to be published if they write about epic struggles, rather than breezy romantic comedy. Likewise, I think that migrant writers will have an easier time getting into print if they follow the well-established trope of the happy, grateful migrant.” Natalie Kon-yu Lecturer in Creative and Professional Literature and Gender Studies, Victoria University.
For a moment I want to take a short side trip to discuss the culture of discrimination, assimilation, and the Christianising of the indigenous population that I personally witnessed as a child. It may shine a light on the culture Indigenous people face in the community at large, let alone in the publishing landscape.
Police would routinely round up local aboriginals about our outback town of Alice Springs, (where there is an intersection of close to 60 tribal lands) because business owners would report them as a nuisance, (note: not breaking the law, but just a hindrance to them conducting their business, or an eyesore) then the officers would throw them into the back of the paddy wagon and see if they would bounce. I had friends in school who were of the stolen generation. The church would remove young indigenous children from their families to be educated (*cough*civilized*cough*) in order to save their souls. Because native Australians apparently had no souls. But what did all this assimilation really mean? It meant the indigenous population could then be cooks, cleaners, governesses, manual labour. No right to vote, to own property, just some form of indoctrinated slavery… short of being owned and sold off for money. I’d even heard first hand of how aboriginal women (and girls) were frequently raped. People held their breath when walking past them in public because they smelled awful. I won’t mention the names and slang parents and friends had for our native Australians. They were a joke, less than, diminished. And this is what they would let a child see and know about. Role models like police, priests and nuns, nurses, doctors, parents, business owners, they all exhibited this behaviour for children to see, out in the open on a daily basis. Think about that… this was deemed appropriate for kids; imagine the things that were inappropriate. It make me shudder.
Once I hit my teens, the culture was changing. Maybe it had a bit to do with the capitalisation of the Aboriginal culture through tourism. Aussies were proud to tout Dreamtime, tour sacred sites, sell dot artwork and digeridoos, spears, and wangaras… but you didn’t actually see an indigenous Australian running the show, or reaping the profits of such endeavours. In school we learnt Arande (an aboriginal dialect) as a part of our language course, bush survival skills and bush tucker from local aboriginal elders. The government were starting to offer benefits and handouts to the local aboriginals, and we never saw any more families being torn apart ‘for their own good.’ There were purpose built Aboriginal communities on the government dime… so some progress, but still a way off from the respect native Australians deserved as people. If you stood up for the Aboriginal population and the discrimination they faced, you were laughed at, dismissed, labelled a hippie. It was such a mixed message. So growing up in Australia, in particular, close to Aboriginal tribal lands and settlements, our native Australians were treated abhorrently… and this is firsthand knowledge, behaviour that was out in the open for everyone to see. Gosh I hate to even imagine the type of abuse and discrimination that went on out of the public eye.
My friends (and now family members) are Aboriginal and people of colour, and I was so confused growing up. Why did we treat people that way? Why did grown-ups think it was okay to hurt someone else? Coming of age in a small outback town was intense tutelage in race dynamics. We were isolated. I’d only ever met German or Swedish back packers, a number of Vietnamese of Chinese locals (and they experienced the same discrimination) apart from the Aboriginals: when I finally left home and moved to the city and discovered the wider world, Torres Strait Islanders, Maori’s, my brain just about exploded. Why did we dismiss or exclude our immediate neighbours?
I don’t need to mention that women in the workplace were mostly relegated to secretaries and department store sales if they dare step away from child-rearing. Being gay was seen a weak and an anomaly; publically shunned, ignored, or turned into a joke. There was no diversity of the LGBTQIA+ banner. It’s sad to say but all those terrible ‘80’s movie stereotypes weren’t too far removed from my reality. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever met anyone confined to a wheelchair, blind, chromosomally challenged – those individuals were removed from mainstream schooling to a place with specialised services, or home-schooled. Effectively erasing their existence from the youth’s consciousness.
I was scared to say anything about my experiences, because even though I was a child, a spectator, what does it say about me? I witnessed this discrimination and, frankly, criminal activity and did nothing.
As an adult and teacher I try my best to be inclusive in my ethos – elements of feminism and Aboriginal culture in all areas of the curriculum. Fair representation in literature, history, culture, politics, role models. Teaching awareness and critical thinking. I act with my vote, I act with my dollar. I’m not able to take to the streets and scream about the injustices, throw controversial topics of conversation in the faces of my peers and bosses. That would put an end to my career, label me as combative. Instead, it’s about a balanced conversation, opening people’s eyes rather than an in-your-face confrontation. Maybe it’s a part of my upbringing. Learning to manoeuvre in the background. Instigate change in increments. There is also an element of not throwing stones at glass houses – an all-out assault calls for retaliation. I see it in our politics, in cancel culture… slow and steady stand of principles wins the race. We’re seeing many of those role models of my childhood being replaced with a more educated and diverse culture (or they are simply dying out.)
It gives me hope. Hope that our society is becoming more one. Human beings. Slowly removing bullying, hate culture, discrimination, racism. I’m starting to see reflections of this in literature. Representation like I’ve never seen it before. Old points of view in history challenged. Culture being preserved. Identity cherished.
Movements like BLM aren’t necessarily about literature and representation, they are about civil rights, abuse, murder, discrimination… but the knock on effect is that we are starting to see the rest of society take a good hard look at themselves. Am I participating in a culture that allows discrimination to go unchecked? What can I do to help instigate change for the better?
That’s what I hope most of us are thinking. It’s the world I want to live in. Granted not everyone has these views, and this discussion is only from my life’s perspective as Caucasian. But I hope it challenges you to think about the underlying attitudes behind the lack of diversity in popular literature. About not forgetting the past. About having the courage to stare the ugly truth in its face and knowing things have to change… and how to go about implementing that change.
My family in itself is diverse. We have people of colour, over 7 nationalities, diverse genders and sexual orientations.
I am seeing change for the better. Seeing diversity represented in the industries I work in, in literature. But every now and then the old attitudes raise their head… like when we were shopping, my friend a POC, the shop assistant hovering over him in the store like he was about to steal something. It’s not okay. Not acceptable. But thankfully in my community I see much less of this behaviour than from my childhood. I check people in their jokes or slang. Because those attitudes harm my family.
I hope we are going to start to see statistics on writers from diverse backgrounds – not just male and female. Witnessing the diversity trend in publishing at the moment warms my heart. It makes all those feelings of injustice from my youth have meaning. That I was not alone.
What is the percentage of your diverse reads? Look at the books you’ve read: how many are female authors, authors of colour, ownvoices authors, how many have a diverse main character?
Deconstructing feminity in a male-driven industry… plus gaming and D&D and stuff.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
No. of pages: 272
From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.
The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.
After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.
Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.
I have to admit I was a massive fan of Felicia Day, mainly for her acting chops in shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Eureka,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘The Magicians,’ ‘Supernatural,’ and ‘Dollhouse’ and the film ‘Red: Werewolf Hunter.’ I loved the fact there was another red headed actress out there making strides. I also knew she was kind of a geek, but that was the extent of what I knew of her. Delving into this memoir I became infinitely impressed with her drive and determination despite crippling anxiety and depression. She has two degrees, and effectively launched her own television production company (through web content.) Wowzer! What a chick.
I particularly loved how she approached each roadblock in her unique way. There was no ball-busting bitch. Day is a self-confessed delicate flower, yet she found ways to stand up against the Hollywood meat grinder, internet trolls, and financial struggles. It was such a delight to read about the antithesis of the cold, stone-faced, barren, corporate spinster women thought they needed to be to achieve success in a male dominated society.
She is pretty witty too. I laughed a few times, and enjoyed the memes she included in the books format to accompany the narrative. It wasn’t a laugh-riot, but has an upbeat quirky tone that I haven’t experienced in another memoir to date.
There is a lot of content about ‘The Guild’ and ‘Geek and Sundry’ – which is a major life achievement for her, but I was unfamiliar with a lot of that stuff, and not really into gaming, so my interest waned on the material… which is like, one third of the book. But underlying all of that content are gems and life lessons you learn as you navigate your way through self-discovery, and building a business.
I was particularly confronted towards the end around the internet hate, trolling, and doxing. Such an extreme form or bullying and so obviously done by white men throwing their opinions around and trying to tear down anyone who does not fit into the image they want them to. Felicia Day never comes out and says it directly – probably for legal reasons – but there is some plain-as-day misogynists out there in places of power, and hiding behind the anonymity of the internet that need to be checked, or simply removed from their thrones. Period. My heart bleeds for Day that she had to live through that experience.
This was a lovely read, and some of the content I could not relate to directly, but the core messages, and Felicia’s personality shine through. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in acting, YouTube, gaming, or struggling with online hate. She has since published another book ‘Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity’ which I am particularly interested in, as it sounds to be more focused on life-lessons and strategies for a creative driven business. Right up my alley.
Before we get into what can be a touchy subject for some, please note the title: I mention success, not commercial success. Which I feel is an important distinction. The latter seems to be the standard in order to gauge whether being a writer is, in fact, a worthwhile profession.
This topic came about from a discussion I was having with a few fellow authors when I had noticed an ex-business acquaintance posting about her award winning novel. How it was ranked #1 on Amazon. Now, from knowing her personally for over 10 years, I know she was never inclined with superb literacy. And upon hearing that I was writing books, and was going to be editing my mothers work (posthumously) to release under her name as a dying wish. It felt like she wanted to become an author to throw it in my face. Like anyone can do it. Like I wasn’t all that special.
Truth be told. Anyone can write a novel. But this woman was coming from a place of negativity. The past aside, I thought good for her. I’ve been toiling for years on content and yet to publish. She has achieved this in six short months. Though, when I investigated her claims, found out a little more about her book, nothing added up. No listing on Goodreads, no search results on Amazon, or Google for that matter. I couldn’t find it anywhere apart from a link on her website. It was a little overpriced. In the genre of self-help, and to be completely honest, nothing particularly unique or original. I could jump on Pinterest and scroll through the inspirational quotes and get the same sort of content.
Did that mean she wasn’t a success as an author?
So the discussion with my little gaggle of writers pondered the idea that you are a writer as long as you are writing, and an author as long as you have published something for public consumption.
The woman mentioned above may be an author, but she exposed herself as a bit of a liar by making sensational claims on stitched together content from very generic sources. My fellow writers wanted to discredit her because of how they put in so much time and effort to craft a novel, or memoir, and someone else produces something, in their opinion, substandard.
But that’s the thing about the access to self-publishing. We have started to see work that is solely produced as a revenue stream, a low-cost method to get your work out and support your claims that you are an established author.
I say good for them. Everyone has different tastes in literature, different ways they want to spend their own money. There is an audience for all types of writers.
Eluding further on the conversation, many of us were mixing up published online content with traditionally published and self-published material. It is such a diverse field. I had to bring up the fact that I do a lot of writing for web content, textbooks and manuals, technical writing, and ghost writing. Very little of which has my name attached to it. So it falls into the grey area of being labelled an author. I can’t point a something and claim I wrote it when I don’t have a by-line, or am not credited in the end pages. Today, we have infinitely more access and diverse modes of writing and publishing. I think the past ideas of a successful author aren’t holding true in today’s climate.
Not all authors are credited for their work. Not all writers earn money from their craft. Not all writers and authors are commercially successful.
Talking to many writers, it seems the dream is to be getting that elusive best seller from being traditionally published. However there are alternatives to this ideal. Traditionally published authors reap the benefits of a system that has their work edited and published by a team, having their books positioned in book stores, department stores and online shops. It’s nothing a person with some basic know-how and a bit of savvy, and a lot of hard work cannot accomplish today. Online marketing has provided a great opportunity to anyone willing to have a go.
Blogs and podcasts have found success on their own. E-books have cornered a niche market. It is truly an amazing landscape in comparison to what existed 15-20 years ago.
Getting back to defining success as an author… is success earning a living from your publications? Recognition? Or merely the fact that you have been published? With the market being flooded with sub-par self-published material, general opinion on simply being published has become devalued. In a culture of influencers and social media, recognition seems to have taken a more dominant role. But that is tied into image, behaviour, content, and relevance. It’s a full time job managing an image just to market your publication. But individuals are doing it and winning. And as for earning a living from your published works… there aren’t a lot of writer friends in proportion to the number of writers I know of who are living above the poverty line solely on the profit and royalties they make from sales alone.
So, unfortunately, success as an author is a subjective term. It’s interpreted by the individual and their perspective. In my opinion as long as you are enriching the publishing landscape, touching readers, then you are a success. But don’t be like that woman lying about her book – she’s like a Karen. Don’t be Karen. Write with passion. Believe in your work. Support fellow authors and make the publishing experience a pleasant one, because heaven knows it’s hard enough for most of us to write a book in the first place.
How would your measure success for an author or writer?
What is your opinion on a lot of these false claims made in marketing a book?
Do you thing self-publishing is sullying the reputations of published authors?
I read this article by Pamela Rushby in the WQ and wanted to share it here because I love compelling first sentences. I always try to write that hook for the start of my novels (and at the start of every chapter) because I feel it is important to be aware of ways to keep your words engaging and capture your audience. In fact it is one of the items I have on my checklist while editing.
What’s the most important sentence in your story?
When a potential reader picks up your book in a bookshop or library they’ll glance at the cover. Possibly read the blurb on the back. Then, if thy’re still attracted, flip the book open and read the first sentence.
The first sentence.
Now, you have probably not (unless you’re an author/illustrator) designed the cover. Probably not written the blurb on the back. So that first sentence is your first opportunity to grab your reader – and keep them reader.
Which means that the first sentence needs to be a sizzler.
Here are just a few first sentences that I desperately wish I’d written. You probably have favourites of your own – and I’d love to hear them.
The small boys arrived early for the hanging. (The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett, Penguin Random House 2016)
I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten: it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. (Splintered, A.G. Howard, Amulex Books 2013)
King Constantine IX of Regia had been killed three times and was bored with it. (The Beggar Queen, Lloyd Alexander, E.P. Dutton 1984)
The three backpackers were breathing heavily. (Circles of Stone, HarperCollins 2003)
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. (I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith, St Martins Griffin 1948)
All pretty compelling, yes? Except one. I slipped that in there because I don’t like it at all. I think it’s weak. Dull. It’s ‘The three backpackers were breathing heavily.’ B-o-r-i-n-g. And I can say that because I wrote it. It’s the first sentence of my ya novel Circles of Stone. It makes me blush now. I’d never use that as a first sentence again.
So how could I have made that stronger – a sizzling first sentence? One way is to locate the first really dramatic incident in the book and make that the first sentence. Put it right up front. Hook the reader, then explain what’s going on in flashbacks.
In Circles I was 2000 words into the story before something exciting happened: the discovery of a centuries-old mummified body in a bog. That’s where I should have begun!
But there are many different ways to start a story, and I’ve collected seven of them.
And here are a few examples:
Action I didn’t hesitate. I shot him
Dialogue “So, Sabrina, just when was it you discovered that you were destined to kill your one ture love?”
Thought It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife (Pride and Prejidice, Jane Austin)
Senses, feeling He knew there was something about that room, it was the way he shivered and a cold sweat broke out under his arms whenever he passed it.
Surprise, shock I never thought my favourite cousin would try to poison me on my sixteenth birthday.
Question When you start a new school you know it’s not going to be a barrel of laughs, but do you expect to be charged with murder on your first day?
Description Dusk drew in, sleet hissed furiously against the cabin walls, and much closer than they would have liked, something suspiciously like a wolf howled.
Want to try it for yourself? Here’s a short scenario:
It’s 79AD. You’re living in Pompeii, In Italy. You’ve noticed some slight earth tremors in the past few days, but these happen often in Pompeii. Nothing to worry about. Then, without warning, you hear an ear-splitting roar. You turn to see the mountain behind your town has exploded. A huge black cloud is climbing up into the sky.
Now, choose a way to start: action, dialogue, statement, feeling, surprise, question, description.
What’s your first sizzling sentence?
Pamela Rushby has had over 200 books published, both in Australia and overseas. Her books and scripts have won many awards. Her historical fantasy middle-grade novel, The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle will be published by Walker in 2020. It is guaranteed to have a sizzling first sentence.
I liked that we got specific examples and an exercise to challenge our writer’s brain in creating an attention grabbing first sentence. Is this something you’ve thought of? Have your heard this advice before? Do you have a particular favourite first sentence?
I also like the approach that some authors take of a preface – a cut scene from the most dramatic part of the novel to grab the readers attention.
Additionally, some novels have fun chapter headings, or a weird location to create intrigue like Somewhere beneath the city in the darkness of the catacombs 1:37am.
It’s all about creating an atmosphere to hook your reader… do you have a favourite that you have written? Share some in the comments sections, I’d love the hear them – and possibly find my next five star read!
Who else is over self-sabotage? I can’t list the number of things I have given up on because of that inner voice convincing me otherwise… finding my courage again and trying to feel free to be myself. Thanks Felicia!
I think Magda is an amazing woman. I love her work in the film and television industry, the causes she supports, and have met her on several occasions. You can be beautiful, intelligent and funny… and I am interested to uncover more as she explores her more personal history.
Just a little bit sassy, but very real. Loved reading about Naya’s behind the scenes life, how she is carving out a career and family life for herself. Plus some ‘Glee’ perspective had me devouring this in a day. Starting to love my celebrity memoirs.
Frank anecdotes from your favorite ‘Glee’ mean girl.
Genre: Non Fiction, Autobiography
No. of pages: 256
Navigating through youth and young adulthood isn’t easy, and in Sorry Not Sorry, Naya Rivera shows us that we’re not alone in the highs, lows, and in-betweens. Whether it’s with love and dating, career and ambition, friends, or gossip, Naya inspires us to follow our own destiny and step over–or plod through–all the crap along the way. After her rise and fall from early childhood stardom, barely eking her way through high school, a brief stint as a Hooters waitress, going through thick and thin with her mom/manager, and resurrecting her acting career as Santana Lopez on Glee, Naya emerged from these experiences with some key life lessons:
– All those times I scrawled “I HATE MY MOM” in my journal. So many moms and teenage daughters don’t get along–we just have to realize it’s nothing personal on either side.
– At-home highlights and DIY hair extensions. Some things are best left to the experts, and hair dye is one of them.
– Falling in love with the idea of a person, instead of the actual person.
– That I don’t always get along with everyone. Having people not like you is a risk you have to take to be real, and I’ll take that over being fake any day.
– Laughing at the gossip instead of getting upset by it.
– Getting my financial disasters out of the way early–before I was married or had a family–so that the only credit score that I wrecked was my own.
Even with a successful career and a family that she loves more than anything else, Naya says, “There’s still a thirteen-year-old girl inside of me making detailed lists of how I can improve, who’s never sure of my own self-worth.” Sorry Not Sorry is for that thirteen-year-old in all of us.
I loved the frank and to the point narrative style of Naya. It sounded like she was curled up on the couch next to you with a cuppa having a girly heart to heart.
It’s not the most well-written memoir I’ve read, but that’s because of her goal to be honest with her audience, not wow people with flowery phrase and symbolism, or shock and awe with some tabloid tell-all. And I have to applaud her with this raw and revealing autobiography.
I did get a certain tone coming across – an ‘I’m good and I know it.’ But as she states in this memoir it’s a product of the entertainment industry she’s been a part of since she was 5 years old. You have to be ballsy and confident, put yourself out there to win roles. Toot your own horn. So I don’t fault her for this attitude because it’s gotten her to where she is today and will see her through a successful career in the future.
There were some topics touched on with that same realism, like identity, eating disorders, family, as well as events around her ‘Glee’ co-stars like Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Lea Michele. Which to be frank the latter is the biggest reason many pick up this book. She handled everything with aplomb and I loved her attitude in dealing with conflict, friendships, and the public eye.
The theme of reflection is inevitable in a memoir, and with Naya tackling sex, past relationships, and her marriage, she comes at slut shaming head-on. I just about cheered at her take on letting women explore their own sexuality. We’re allowed to have slutty years, make bad decisions, party a little. It’s how we learn life lessons and grow wiser. It should be embraced and celebrated, not shamed.
Her discussion on abortion, race, and religion would have to be of the most controversial topics she raises. All from her own personal experiences. A warts and all approach. It was refreshing to read a realistic portrayal, her regrets, mistakes, and what she did to pick herself up afterwards and keep on going. It showed true strength of character and determination, and had me even more envious of her resolve.
My first introduction to Naya was through ‘Glee,’ and I loved her acting, her singing, and comic timing. I wish I got to see more of her on the big screen as think she is truly talented. This autobiography also showed me how much more there is to her professionally. And living vicariously through her words, I know I am an even bigger fan. She seems to have come full circle.
A fun quick light read with a surprisingly quaint philosophical point. But I’d probably only recommend it for fans of her work. The writing style is very contemporary, frank, and while delivering an important message, references a lot of social media and tabloid goings-on. So if you’re not connected to that world, you won’t really get into Naya’s life battles. But she is definitely one woman I’m expecting an amazing future from.