celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review: You Should Sit Down For This by Tamera Mowry-Housley

Tamera Mowry-Housley is best known as half of the identical twin duo that starred in “Sister, Sister” and as one of the talk show hosts on “The Real”. Because everyone gets to write a memoir these days, Mowry-Housley has written one at age 44. The book title says it’s about life, wine and cookies which I assume is supposed to be about her personal life, her career and I guess life advice as she sprinkles across the book, something she calls “Tamera-isms”.

I won’t mince any words and just flat out say that I thought this was a terrible book. In fact, it was an insult to the word memoir. I picked up this book because Mowry-Housley has the reputation of being the “boring” twin and is often misunderstood, I figured I’d pick this one up to hear from her point of view and see if I could gain a different perspective of her and unfortunately, this did not help her case at all. It was awful.

As always for a celebrity memoir, I did this on audio and I wanted to end my suffering as soon as I started. I am not sure who signed off on this because the tempo was not it at all. It was almost like she was putting on a forced positivity and the cheeriness came off as fake. It was just over the top. But it was just 5 hours long so I figured I could bear it. The book had soooo many metaphors and euphemisms that were over the top and was distracting from whatever surface story she was telling us.

When you read a memoir, you should feel like you learned things about them that you didn’t know before reading and this was not the case here. In fact, you would know more about Tamera looking up her old interviews and watching The Real than reading this book. For example, in a story talking about her breakup with her now-husband, Adam she says “I don’t want to talk about it, even just thinking about it now brings a tear to my eye”. No memoir should have the phrase “I don’t want to talk about it” that is a signal that you do not need to be writing a memoir.

As mentioned above, she is best known for “Sister, Sister”. I had settled in to listen to the behind the scenes of the show and couldn’t believe that it was a blink and you miss it situation. One minute she mentioned they booked the show and the next she is saying when the show ended. For someone who is partly famous because she is an identical twin, she barely if at all talks about their relationship. We don’t learn more about her family and that’s because most of the stories were surface. I didn’t understand the choice to not talk about being biracial instead she refers to herself as a black girls with curls. She never referenced the reality show she had with her twin sister, never referenced the depression she went through in college.

I can give a little credit to her getting a little more authentic when talking about being on The Real and how much anxiety it gave her but she over compensated by telling us every 5 seconds how much she loved her coworkers and she spent most of it defending her husband. The chapter where she talks about the death of her niece due to gun violence was the other story she was authentic about. She tries to be down with people by talking about sex and how people consider her a prude to which she boldly tells us that they are wrong and she is infact “a freak in the sheets” (cringe). She proceeds to share her sex goals which are places she wants to have sex that include a lavender field and on top of a car in the rain (gosh) and then follows it up with it’s none of our business which ones she has checked off. Sigh.

Overall, I just got the impression that Tamera is the kind of person who likes for everything to look nice. She mentions how she is proud of her positivity but it almost sounded like a detriment in this book. I think the idea of the book was a cross between Yvonne Orji’s “Bamboozled by Jesus” and Gabrielle Union’s “We’re going to need more wine” except she failed on both ends. Orji found a fun way to give fun, personalized advice while Tamera told us things that everyone already knows and wasn’t able to capture Union’s realness. In case you couldn’t tell, I do not recommend this book. I gave it 1 star and immediately told Leggy that it is in the running for my worst read of the year.

If you have read this and think otherwise, I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!

Taynement

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, movie related topics, Non-Fiction

Book Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy

“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms, they’re the most romanticized of anyone. Moms are saints, angels by merely existing. No one could possibly understand what it’s like to be a mom. Men will never understand, women with no children will never understand. No one buts moms know the hardship of motherhood and we non-moms must heap nothing but praise upon mom because we lowly, pitiful, non-moms are mere peasants compared to the goddesses we call mothers.”

I know. What a title. If this is your first time hearing about this book then congratulations to you because the marketing team for Simon & Schuster definitely went all out on this one. There was no way I was skipping out on this book, especially after Leggy read it first and told me about it.

Jeanette McCurdy is a former child actor, best known for her role on iCarly. Her memoir mostly recounts her life getting into the business and navigating it while managing the emotions of a narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother. She shares how her mother controlled her life and emotions including her weight which eventually led to an eating disorder. She speaks about how her life was still controlled by her mother’s voice even after she passed away from cancer in 2013.

Like most people, I know McCurdy from her days on Nickelodeon but I didn’t know anything about her personal life till I read a People magazine article on her in 2021 that talked about her one woman play with the same name as her book. I remember being taken aback by the title but much like the quote excerpt above from her book, I remember thinking back then that if her mom did do horrible things to her, why do we in fact romanticize the dead?

McCurdy is very blunt and matter of fact about how she recounts her life story especially how she walked on egg shells around her mom and spent most of her life trying to keep her mom happy including fulfilling her mom’s dream of being an actor. She does mention her dad in the book but he doesn’t seem to have had an active role in her life. I wondered if she harbored any resentment towards him but that is something she did not go into detail about. The other thing I wondered about was that McCurdy recounts things so well, to a time period as far back as when she was 6 years old that it made me wonder how she was able to remember everything verbatim and when I say that I mean generall. It was impressive.

I have seen this book described as humorous but I have to be honest, I did not encounter any humorous moments. I was more wrapped up in how in so many words, she was her mom’s emotional support human and through the pages I felt claustrophobic for her. The second half of the book follows her life beyond her mom’s control and how she tried to live life and manage her eating disorder. I confess I did not find the latter half as interesting and instead found her Nickelodeon years more interesting especially her description of Ariana Grande, the resentment she had for her back then definitely came through the pages.

Overall, while I did not think it was an exceptional book, it was entertaining enough and I do think it was brave of her to push past the norm and recognize that she was not treated well by her mother. The book never addressed if her mom suffered from a mental illness but probably there was no chance to, given her cancer. As always, I did this on audio and McCurdy reads it herself but be warned that it does sound like she is rushing through, so don’t worry your audio speed is just fine 🙂

Taynement

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review – Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of “The View” by Ramin Setoodeh

The View is one of the longest running daytime talk shows hosted by a panel of women. Created by vet, Barabara Walters, it was the first of its kind at the time. Over the years, the show has gone through numerous hosts and public and private drama. Ladies Who Punch with interviews from almost all the hosts (in fact, all the hosts except for Elisabeth Hasselbeck) explores the behind the scenes drama and revisits the drama the public knew about.

You know, I am never quite sure what genre to classify these sort of books in (Read: Not All Diamonds and Rose, The Housewives etc) but I think they have shot up to the top of my list of favorite genres. These books basically read like reality shows and as a fan of reality shows and memoirs, it should be no surprise. I always welcome a peek behind the curtains on the actual personas of celebrities vs. the public personas we get.

All this to say, I truly enjoyed this book and it came at a good time as a palate cleanser. It was such an interesting feeling recounting some of the drama or notable episodes that I remembered and hearing what the true stories were about. I stopped watching The View many years ago, so everything read as new. I felt like I was just learning about Barbara Walters for the first time (might I add I wonder a lot about where she is these days?)

It was also interesting to learn just how much the crew HATED Rosie O’ Donnell. I used to love Rosie’s show back in the day, so learning this other side to her was new. On the flip, in the book, Whoopi seems to have rated highly with viewers in focus groups but arguably didn’t come off so great in the book. Star Jones seemed to take accountability for her mistakes and Meredith Viera seemed to genuinely be a sweetheart. In some way, The View played a part in Donald Trump being President (don’t ask me how lol) but he is featured a lot in the book.

Overall, if you are into behind the scenes and let’s call it what it is – gossip – then this is the right book for you. I will say that I hesistate to call it gossip because Setoodeh comes with straight facts and a lot of what is in the book is straight from the horse’s mouth with people backing up what was being said. He speaks a little with Meghan McCain who he has known for a while but we interestingly get nothing from Sunny Hostin. I wonder why…?

Taynement

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage by Heather Havrilesky

But I have to admit, there’s something reassuring, to me, about breaking down, falling into disrepair, losing your charms, and misplacing your keys, when you have an equally inept and irritating human tolerating it all, in spite of a million and one very good reasons to put on his walking boots and take his love to town. In other words, if marriage is irrational, as with child-rearing and ambition and art, that’s also part of its appeal.

I had never heard of Heather Havrilesky until a twitter thread of hers made its way to my timeline. A thread complaining about the sexist treatment of her book about marriage. She talked about how people had read only an excerpt in the New York Times and decided she was just a wife who hates her husband and then without reading the entire book for context found her hateful and not grateful enough. Even though I am not married, I put her book on hold at my local library and promptly forgot about it until it checked out to me. Then I debated on if I really wanted to read a book about marriage but after clicking “deliver later” twice, I finally just caved and started it and then read it all in 24 hours.

“People always assume that love is all about celebrating someone else’s amazing qualities. But true love is also about accepting another person’s flaws. In order to create a love that grew and adapted over the years, you had to commit to someone else’s flaws the same way you commit to their qualities. That was love. Loving someone’s bouts of neediness and self-loathing the way you love their hot face.”

Heather has written a very honest book about her marriage. She doesn’t try to sugarcoat the intricacies of it. She doesn’t sell you the rom com view which a lot of books on marriage and a lot of relationship pages sell you on instagram, and I understand why that would make people mad and uncomfortable. But I ask you to sit in your uncomfortability and ask yourself why honesty makes you squirm. Why we have to sanitize the truth of two strangers meeting, living together and raising children? This is not a book of advice, Heather does not implore you to adopt her marriage style, she only tells you how she and her partner, Bill, have managed to navigate theirs.

“Marriage is a lifelong market correction to true love’s overvaluation.”

Considering the sexist world we live in where women are supposed to be eternally grateful to have a man love them and everybody around the world works around the clock to protect the ego of men they have not met, the New York Times excerpt was probably not the best to go with. Yes, it’s loud and controversial and I can see how a publicist or Heather herself thought it would garner attention and lead people to the book but only a man can get away with that kind of excerpt without context. Heather loudly declares in the excerpt that of course she hates her husband and everyone ignores the dichotomy of sometimes hating someone you genuinely love and adore. I saw people giving this book one star based only on that excerpt without even reading the book. It was quite interesting to see people rushing to the defence of an imaginary bruised ego instead of just deciding – that book is probably not for me and moving along, they had to punish Heather for daring to be open and vulnerable about all her feelings even those we might think are ugly and should not be spoken out loud.

“Oh, Bill, Bill, Bill,” she said, sounding disgusted. “He’s not so perfect, you know!”

Me who has actually read the book thought because she was being brutally honest she made sure to actually point out how amazing her husband is at the end of every anecdote. He actually does 50% of the housework, does actual parenting and always tells her how hot she is. At some point I felt exactly like her mother in the quote above. Like Girl, you must have hit the jackpot with this man. The most uncomfortable I felt while reading this book is when she tells her husband about this author she had dinner with hitting on her. They talk about it in such detail and she kept bringing up the fantasies she’s been having about this man and they even discuss rationally the idea of her having an affair with this man. It made me so uncomfortable because me as a single person, my idea of love and long term relationship does not include this type of radical honesty. I kept thinking, why can’t she just shut up about this man and deal with this privately? We all are so sure that we want absolute honesty from our significant others but I think that the romance that has been sold to us has convinced us that it won’t include having conversations about attraction to the opposite sex and possible affairs. I think in my mind once you’ve found the one you love every feeling of desire you have about everybody else just dies especially if you’ve really and truly found the one!

Maybe in the future Bill can save himself a lot of time and effort and just hand his future third wife this book and say, “It’s all in there.”

This is a brutally honest look at Heather’s marriage. If you are someone who worries about airing out dirty laundries or you care deeply about how this book may have made a man you do not know feel, this book is probably not for you. If you are someone who refers to themselves as a good person, this is probably not for you. I think if you see yourself as an individual capable of being complicated and do not intend to project your view of marriage and companionship on another person’s reality then this book is for you. If you just want to sit back and read how someone else has navigated her 15 year marriage even though it might not be how you navigate yours or how you intend to navigate yours then read this story. Again, this is not an advice book. This is a book sorely about Heather’s marriage.

Every book about marriage is actually a book about survival, and about trying to find happiness together in spite of the fact that you’re doomed to fail from the start. You’re doomed because even though you’re aiming for forever, forever doesn’t really exist. You either die or your marriage does. There is no forever.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this one and have recommended it to Taynement because I want to hear what an actual married person who I like and trust thinks about it. If you intend to read this book, I implore you not to read that excerpt in the New York Times or read any angry reviews of this book. Judge this book purely on the words the author has put down on paper in its entirety. I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads. I docked one star because I actually did not laugh once. Yes, a lot of the digs at her husband were tongue in cheek and meant to be funny but I think the best part of this book is the quiet honesty and the fact that the author does not shy away from the ugliness that makes us human.

Leggy

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, Self Help

Book Review: Will by Will Smith

“Stop thinking about the damn wall!” he said. “There is no wall. There are only bricks. Your job is to lay this brick perfectly. Then move on to the next brick. Then lay that brick perfectly. Then the next one. Don’t be worrying about no wall. Your only concern is one brick.”

Will is the eponymous autobiography by Will Smith. At the beginning of the book, Will tells us that his personality is one that tries to clean up and make everything nice and I think that is what he did with his book. While one could argue that he was honest and vulnerable, you could also argue that it was a case of saying a lot without saying much.

“How we decide to respond to our fears, that is the person we become. I decided to be funny.”

I think Will did a good job of laying the groundwork on us understanding where he came from and what led to his fears and insecurity and also his strong work ethic. It was good to see behind the curtains how he became a force in movies and music through intentional planning but also a splash of luck. I found it interesting that Will didn’t focus a lot on his race during his journey to fame and I don’t think it’s something I fault him for and I wonder if it was a conscious thing. I also didn’t get the impression that it isn’t something he doesn’t consider because he does tell a story in the book when he was in South Africa, where he stood up for the right thing.

“If you cultivate the fantasy that your marriage will be forever joyful and effortless, then reality is going to pay you back in equal proportion to your delusion. If you live the fantasy that making money will earn you love, then the universe will slap you awake, in the tune of a thousand angry voices.”

With the many stories that have come out about Will and Jada, it is a safe assumption that this is something most people would be curious about but you will be dissapointed in because he doesn’t get into the salacious details. Will focuses a lot on just himself in his book and doesn’t speak much for other members of his family only in context as it relates to a story about himself. A lot of the stories he tells, you may have heard about before and all he does is add a little bit of context with his humor.

“We’re all waiting until we have deep knowledge, wisdom, and a sense of certainty before we venture forth. But we’ve got it backward—venturing forth is how we gain the knowledge.”

I have to mention that this book veers into self-help where Will gives a lot of nuggets he has learned along the way. You’re not always in the mood to get preached to so in those moments, my eyes glazed over. I wish there was a count for every time he said the word “Every”. It was a lot. He does remind us of all his accomplishments and I have seen some people refer to it as him bragging and I did not get that sense at all. To me, it was straight facts and especially as a black man in America, it is a hell of an accomplishment so I have no issues with him tooting his horn.

As always, with celeb memoirs I did this on audio and I recommend you do the same. Besides, the voices and imitations he does, we also get the added bonus of actual music which adds a different level of interaction. While it still seems a tad performative, your thoughts on the book will ultimately depend on what you are hoping to get out of it so for those looking for inspiration this is a 10/10 but you won’t lack for entertainment.

Taynement.

Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review: Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones

Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical  Religious Cult by Faith Jones

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault (some involving minors), rape

Sex Cult Nun is a memoir of sorts as the author recounts the story of being part of a cult, Children of God(CoG), founded by her grandfather. She recounts living in hiding in Macau with her family as the cult was having terrible PR with its controversial way of living. Her family constituted of two moms as CoG allowed for sexual liberation and anyone could sleep with anyone. As if that wasn’t enough, contraception was banned.

The terrible PR eventually led to a change in name of the cult to The Family. With locations around the world, members just showed up anywhere in the world and had to live in a Family house. If they felt you did wrong, they could reassign you anywhere. There was no formal education because her Grandfather (who she never met by the way) told them the rapture was going to happen in 1993, so there wasn’t even a plan for retirement.

I am fascinated by cult themes because I always try to understand how a person gets to this point and the mental strength it takes to get out of it. Everything about this book sounded unreal and quite frankly, inhumane. Everyone I told a synopsis of the book, asked me why I was reading it. This is a group that had its law modified to exclude sex with children under 16 ONLY because police was getting involved – imagine what it was before that.

As gross as it was, I had to remember that this was someone’s real life. I felt for her as a kid because this was all she knew. The kids didn’t ask for this. Her grandfather was in hiding for most of his regime so he was barely seen but he communicated with his followers through “Mo Letters” that were highly sexual. The cult promoted sexuality in what they called “sharing”.

At some point, her mom got pregnant and didn’t know the father. That’s because there was something called “Flirty Fishing” – preaching the gospel and trying to convert them, even if it means sleeping with them and her mom took her along on these expeditions. This is me letting you guys know that this book is very graphic. How graphic? There is a scene where her mom makes her watch as she masturbates her dad and I will leave it at that.

I completely understand being grossed out by the subject matter and detail but if you are able to stomach it, I found it quite fascinating. I think Jones was convincing as a reliable narrator and watching her journey to realization and eventually to freedom was worth it for me because even I didn’t know her, I was proud and happy for her.

The book doesn’t give much information into the psyche of the parents which would have been more informative. There’s lots of detail and people that might be a little difficult to navigate. It’s written in a matter of fact tone which is expected because it truly is a lot to unpack and is probably how she is able to get through. I was so intrigued by this book that I sought out old documentaries by other survivors and seeing it on screen backing up everything Jones said, was just a jarring experience.

Some people are confused about the name of the book. The sex and cult part are self explanatory but the nun part she says is tongue in cheek reference to the isolated devotion where she felt like she grew up like a nun except there was lots of sex involved.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and I think I left out one star because of how uncomfortable it made me but if it made me that uncomfortable, doesn’t that mean it did its job?

Taynement

Memoirs, Non-Fiction, race

Book Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

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“It felt like the world had divided into two different types of people, those who had felt pain and those who had yet to.”

I know Zauner’s book was all the rage last year but for some reason, I just never paid attention to the hype. I don’t even remember putting this book on hold at the library until it checked out to me first week of 2022. I didn’t have anything else to read so I decided to give it a go. Also, I never paid attention to what this book was actually about. I just assumed it was a collection of essays about being Asian in America but instead what I got was a heartbreaking memoir about grief, mother-daughter relationships and identity.

“I remember these things clearly because that was how my mother loved you, not through white lies and constant verbal affirmation, but in subtle observations of what brought you joy, pocketed away to make you feel comforted and cared for without even realizing it.”

Zauner writes about her complicated relationship with her Korean mother and her white father and losing her mother to advanced pancreatic cancer. She doesn’t shy away from the difficult times and what actually caring for a loved one is like. She also doesn’t paint her mother to be just one thing. That was my favorite part of this book. Her mother was never shoehorned into a stereotype, she let her mum be a full human being who had flaws. After a tumultuous relationship with her mother during high school, she runs away to college in the east coast and when she finally returns to care for her mother full time, she wants to heal her mother through Korean food and repair their relationship.

Food was how my mother expressed her love. No matter how critical or cruel she could seem—constantly pushing me to meet her intractable expectations—I could always feel her affection radiating from the lunches she packed and the meals she prepared for me just the way I liked them.

The way Zauner talks about her Korean identity through food and travel was really lovely to read. The author went to Korea every summer for 6 weeks with her mum until high school and talks about the cultural differences. She wasn’t a beauty in America but because she was mixed in Korea with white skin and had the coveted double eyelid, she was considered a great beauty there. She even got scouted to be an idol singer during one of her trips but her mum told her she would never be happy being an idol*. These anecdotes made her connection to her mother and her country very real. She was very immersed in her Korean identity despite having a white father. In fact, she was born in Korea but they moved back to the US when she turned 1.

The boy’s mom placed pieces of beef from her spoon onto his. He is quiet and looks tired and doesn’t talk to her much. I want to tell him how much I miss my mother. How he should be kind to his mom, remember that life is fragile and she could be gone at any moment.

Crying in H Mart was absolutely worth all the hype. It had me feeling so many different emotions and also had me bawling in my office while reading it. Seriously, fuck cancer. This is a thought provoking and emotional memoir that reminds us that our parents are human and are winging this parenting thing. Zauner wrote a very honest book that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or gloss over who her parents were, but you come out of it feeling like you saw a full picture instead of one single perspective. You feel compassion for her mother even when her actions come off cruel.

“In fact, she was both my first and second words: Umma, then Mom. I called to her in two languages. Even then I must have known that no one would ever love me as much as she would.”

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a nonfiction book to read with a trigger warning that this book is about loss and grief. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

*Idol – a Korean star who has been trained from birth to be a star usually scouted purely on looks.

Leggy

Memoirs, movie related topics, Non-Fiction

Book Review: Not All Diamonds and Rose by David Quinn

Not All Diamonds and Rose is the official Bravo/Andy Cohen approved memoir of sorts of the Real Housewives franchise. Spanning interviews from majority of the women from across franchises – from OG’s to one season’ers, execs and producers behind the scenes. People editor, David Quinn crafts a story from words straight from the horse’s mouth and provides us with behind the scenes insight into well known scenes and things we hadn’t heard about before.

I am a reality show junkie and a fan of the Housewives franchise. Translation – I have watched every single episode of every single franchise since inception. I was excited to read this because I can never get enough information on them. I had recently read a rival book, The Housewives: The Real Story Behind The Real Housewives by Brian Moylan. Besides thinking the writing was not the best, my biggest criticism was that as a non-casual fan, I didn’t think there was anything I didn’t know before, I learned nothing new. It was revealed that he was blacklisted and the past and former housewives were instructed not to speak to him. Now we know that it’s because this book was coming out.

It was different with this book, I learned new info or as the kids say, got some new tea and that was all I needed. Granted some people think it was edited and we don’t get the full story since it is being controlled by Bravo, that’s fair but I think even with that, they shared enough to titillate the fans’ senses. At the end of the day, it is still a brand and I expect them to protect it.

I enjoyed the format of the book. It was written interview style and you can tell when the same people were asked the same question or if rivals were confronted with the answer the other gave. It was very reminiscent of how the interviews are held on the shows themselves so you really feel like you were still in the Housewives world. You could tell the Housewives understood the assignment and didn’t hold themselves back. The way it was written, each franchise was in chronological order of when they debuted, with quotes from the cast and producers. Each chapter followed the same formula: origin of picking the city, casting, hitting big, a memorable fight, when things fell apart and I enjoyed it for each franchise especially for those I wondered how they got cast.

My favorite cities recounted were RHOC, RHOA and RHONJ and I enjoyed them for different reasons. RHOC was truly a trip down memory lane (so much so, I went back to watch some episodes with new eyes and new info), RHOA for how much behind the scenes info the producer Carlos King gave and RHONJ for the confirmation on how much Theresa hates her sister-in-law (lol) and the wild story on how the cast got arrested in Dominican Republic and have never been back since then.

A question I got asked a lot is if a casual viewer would enjoy this book and I really don’t know the answer because I read it as a full on fan so I could identify the major incidents mentioned. The book does a good enough job of summarizing whatever incident it might be but I’d be curious to know what it feels like as a casual or non viewer.

Overall, I recommend this book because it gave me a lot of enjoyment. I gave this book 4 stars because it was not consistent in letting us know how people were cast which was of interest to me. They’d do so for some and for people like Candiace or Wendy on RHOP, I was curious to know who recommended them or how they made the list and that was not included. It was disappointing that some big names weren’t included – Nene, Bethenny. It was unfortunate that this was written before the current Erika fiasco and RHOSLC was not included but regardless, if you are looking for mindless, fun reading, this was it for me.

Taynement

Memoirs, Non-Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat – You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

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Leggy: I really enjoyed Gabrielle Union’s first book. I even named it one of my favorite books of the year, the year it came out and I listened to it 5 times! So I was very excited to listen to this one.

Taynement: I honestly am still always shocked when you mention that you listen to books multiple times. Like how?? But yes, I was in the same boat as you. We’re Going to Need More Wine was so good, I immediately got on the waiting list for this one.

Leggy: I was disappointed. I did not think this book was a worthy sequel. I for sure did not need more wine.

Taynement: Ha ha. Or something stronger. They were quite different. Quite frankly, this one was unnecessary.

Leggy: So unnecessary and quite repetitive. Why did she have to revisit Bring it On? She already had an essay about this movie in her first book, which was perfect? Why are we rehashing it all over again? I guess it’s because it’s her only mainstream movie.

Taynement: It’s funny you say that because that was my favorite story. Not sure what that says about the book itself but I didn’t find a lot of the stories compelling. It just didn’t grab me.

Leggy: The only story I found compelling was about her surrogate journey, the rest of the book was just not needed.

Taynement: I enjoyed the surrogate story as well, which is what she started with but it went downhill from there.

Leggy: I’m sure as a celebrity and a black one at that, Gabrielle Union has multiple stories from her life to pull from, so I don’t understand the essays she chose to publish. They didn’t make any sense to me at all. Also this entire book reads very performative. It did not seem genuine. It’s almost like she’s writing for a particular crowd.

Taynement: She unfortunately did the thing where the best part of the book is what she used as promo, so even if you didn’t read the book, you already read the best part. I have always thought Gabrielle Union was performative but she could pull it off in We’re Going to Need More Wine because it was personal stories. In this book, she suffered greatly from a lack of direction. She wasn’t sure if she wanted it to be about race or personal and even with the personal it wasn’t completely her story. I learned more about her stepdaughter in this book than her.

Leggy: Yup. It’s as if she went about collecting all the twitter hot topics and then wrote very impersonal and contrived stories about them. I was so bored. I kept waiting for her to turn the book back towards her and it just never got there. Also, do you believe her when she said the woman she is now would have left Dwyane?

Taynement: It wasn’t more so I didn’t believe her. It was more so it didn’t make sense to me? If in fact that is true, the woman you are now, can still leave? From the book and interviews she has done, I did not get the sense that she is over that whole situation.

Leggy: Exactly. That’s how I felt. So what’s stopping you from leaving now? I think she thinks the audience this book is for, would hate that she stayed. But it’s your decision, it’s your marriage. You have to own the fact that you stayed and recognize that you don’t owe anybody any explanation.

Taynement: Yep. You chose to stay so screw everybody else.

Leggy: She sounded so angry with Dwyane in this book, I was a bit taken aback by it. All while trying to convince us that she’s done the work to make the relationship stronger and better.

Taynement: When she said that people have accused her of not talking about the break baby, I looked around cos I was definitely one of them and then she described it as a trauma. I am ashamed to say I never thought about the angle that he had a baby while they were going through conception struggles. That’s deep.

Leggy: Yeah that’s insane. I can’t imagine how she felt about that.

Taynement: In summary, I don’t think this book was as sincere as the first and the sincerity is what made the first so great.

Leggy: Yes, this book was extremely performative. I wish she hadn’t written it. I did not enjoy it and it sucks because Gabrielle really is a good writer.

Taynement: It definitely was a struggle to read and I have told people I don’t recommend it.

Leggy: I wish she had written something totally different and personal.

Taynement: Last thing, if you do decide to read the book I think we should let people know that it is very heavy on racial topics.

Leggy: Very heavy. Almost all the stories veered into a commentary on race.

Taynement: And I think we need to mention because if you are mood readers like us, sometimes you have to prepare your mind to read certain topics and it’s easy to think this would be a light hearted book because of We’re Going to Need More Wine.

Leggy:If you think this is going to be a fun and compelling book like her first one, just skip it. It’s nothing like it.

Taynement: What she said.

Leggy: Go read her twitter threads instead. It’s just that but in long form.

Taynement & Leggy

Memoirs

Book Review: The Meaning Of Mariah Carey

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.

Taynement