My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: October 2017
Publisher: Day Street Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Memoir, Essays, Race, Growing Up, Abuse, Celebrity Life, Beauty Standards, Relationships
In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.
You don’t actually need wine to read this book, but it sure feels as though Gabrielle Union herself is in front of you, at the other end of the table, telling you her life story.
She comes out as very approachable through her wonderful writing style. She is detailed and precise, and a skilled story-teller. I could picture everything happening clearly in my mind, and the fact that these stories are all true makes them all the more important.
You see, Gabrielle Union may have grown up in an affluent neighbourhood, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen and experienced dark events. In fact, she knew she had to be extra careful and pay extra attention to everything she did and said because the world is harder on people of colour.
But even knowing this and taking precautions, she still got hurt. She still got taken advantage of. She still had her heart broken. And she still was raped at her workplace.
You think everyone has it figured out, or you assume that the only things they’ve had to deal with were mildly serious issues. You don’t think something like that could happen to a celebrity, to someone who is loved and admired by many. You don’t think they’ve had to overcome something so… soul-shattering.
Gabrielle Union did. Now you look at her and you see everything you want to be, but to get to that point she’s had to climb a mountain and dodge a few icebergs. What surprises me most about this memoir are the little details about herself that she so willingly shares with us, like the fact that she first masturbated at the age of five, or how much she wanted to be like the white girls when she was young.
It is not one hundred percent cohesive, seeing that Ms. Union goes back and forth quite a few times, and the last chapter feels extremely random despite being inspiring, but it is entirely interesting, refreshing and honest.
I know a lot of people refuse to read memoirs from celebrities, for many reasons that I respect, but if ever you want to give one a chance and are looking for a meaningful read, this is it.
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