I’m having a rough book year y’all. But it seems that while it is hard to get myself to focus and get into most books, it is much easier to dive into a celeb memoir. So here we are, with yet another memoir.
I am not the biggest Mariah Carey fan. I appreciate her talent and her contribution to the music industry but personality wise, based on the persona she chooses to share with the world, she’s not exactly my favorite. That was not going to stop me from picking this one up. She is iconic status and I thought it would be great to hear her perspective on her life and straight from the source vs. what we have heard over the years through the tabloids.
Mariah starts from the very beginning being born to an Irish mother and a Black father. She details the hardship, the tension between her and her siblings with resentment sprinkled in because she looked white and they thought she was passing and the age gap not helping. The tension between her father and brother to the point of violent scuffles. She also talks about not really fitting in and falling in love with music.
We hear the story of how she was discovered, marrying Tommy Mottola and being in a controlling marriage with him, her various love affairs (Derek Jeter, Luis Miguel, Nick Cannon). She talks extensively about her career. How the magic was created for each album, the people she worked with and the challenges she faced.
I came into this book with the only things I knew about Mariah being the things we’d heard through the media. I have mentioned before how I don’t care for the childhood stories in memoirs but oddly enough, I did not mind Mariah’s. Being honest, I found out probably later than most that Mariah Carey was biracial. For the longest time, I thought her father was biracial, so I found it interesting to read about her upbringing.
I liked this book because I learned so many new things that I did not know before. For one, as mentioned earlier, I did not know Mariah identified as a black woman. I don’t think I knew she was from New York and listening to her audio book narration, I wondered how I’d ever missed her NY accent. I also learned about her strong adoration for Marilyn Monroe who is her she-ro (I mean duh, her child’s name)
Mariah must have one hell of a vivid memory because every story told, even in childhood, was very hella detailed. This could have been the work of her co-writer, Michaela Angela Davis (look her up. I’m sure you have seen her before) but Mariah had to have presented the material for it to be written, so I don’t even think I can say it is because of her.
The biggest flaw this book had was the flaw of omission. You could just tell a lot of things were missing. I moved on to a chapter and all of a sudden she tells us she is singing for demos and I would have loved to know how she got that foot in the door. While she tells us a lot about how marriage to Tommy Mottola was, I still couldn’t tell if he was ever physically abusive because she never explicitly said so and I wondered how a man that controlling only stopped there. She did not touch on her public relationship with James Packer, her time on American Idol or deciding to do a reality show. I know she has said in interviews that only the important things made it in the book but like I always say, don’t write a memoir if you are not ready to lay it bare.
In every story she tells, she comes off as the person done wrong in every situation/story that she tells. That is to say, there wasn’t a strong sense of accountability in certain relationships. I chuckled because Mariah is the only person who would refer to their siblings as ex-sister and ex-brother. There was not a lot said about Nick Cannon, in fact it was almost like she breezed through it. I didn’t get the sense she was in love with him, as she put it he indulged her perpetual 12 year old and he was probably what she needed at that stage of her life.
She speaks a lot about bullying and racism from white people but I find it hard to beleive that she never experienced a hard time from black people for looking white but identifying as black but she never mentions that and it just felt like yet another omission.
Overall, it doesn’t meet my usual criteria for a good memoir because this was a curated memoir but I still enjoyed it. As always I recommend doing this in audio. She is a fantastic narrator and is pretty good at doing voices. I know some people found her breaking into song periodically in the audio book annoying, but I quite liked it.
There are loads of stories and behind the scenes and actual demo tracks (like ODB’s verse for the Sweet Fantasy remix). There is also shade on J.Lo (we find out the reason for Mariah’s issue for her) and Celine Dion (of all people!) but its a fun ride. I saw different sides to her, like her strong faith in God and her resilience. I gave this book 3 stars and I would recommend it.