Tuesday, June 19, 2018

*Review* This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

Genre: Memoir
Published: May 1, 2017
Pages: 256

The Oscar-nominated Precious star and Empire actress delivers a much-awaited memoir—wise, complex, smart, funny—a version of the American experience different from anything we’ve read

Gabourey Sidibe—“Gabby” to her legion of fans—skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels’s acclaimed movie Precious. In This is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen. With full-throttle honesty, Sidibe paints her Bed-Stuy/Harlem family life with a polygamous father and a gifted mother who supports her two children by singing in the subway. Sidibe tells the engrossing, inspiring story of her first job as a phone sex “talker.” And she shares her unconventional (of course!) rise to fame as a movie star, alongside “a superstar cast of rich people who lived in mansions and had their own private islands and amazing careers while I lived in my mom's apartment.”  

Sidibe’s memoir hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight (“If I could just get the world to see me the way I see myself,” she writes, “would my body still be a thing you walked away thinking about?”). Irreverent, hilarious, and untraditional, This Is Just My Face takes its place and fills a void on the shelf of writers from Mindy Kaling to David Sedaris to Lena Dunham.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, because like I've said before, I like making celebrities tell me their own stories with their actual voices, and I have yet to feel like splurging for the audio of a celebrity memoir was a waste. This book was no exception. 

I listened to this audiobook while making a solo trip from my parents house to Colorado Springs to visit my husband and see the house we were hoping to buy (we did, we bought it, we closed on it at the end of February), and I'm glad I did because some of the topics discussed are things I would not have wanted my children around to hear at their current ages. Not that they really pay much attention to my audiobooks in the first place, but when Gabourey starts talking about her work as a phone sex operator (a hilarious bit in the book by the way), I would have had to start listening to something else just to be on the safe side. 

I mentioned in my initial Goodreads review of the book that I think Gabourey would be an amazing BFF. After listening to her book, I just can't imagine not having a blast spending time with her. She just seems like the kind of person who uses humor to deal with pretty much everything and I tend to try to do the same, so we'd basically be a match made in heaven. 

The part of her story that I found most fascinating was everything that led up to her being cast as Precious, her breakout role. The path to that movie's production was long and somewhat convoluted, but apparently it was just waiting for Gabourey to be ready to play the lead. 

Overall I give This is Just My Face 4.999 stars. - Katie 

Gabourey Sidibe is an award-winning actress who is best known for the title role of Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. She has since starred as Queenie in FX’s American Horror Story: Coven and Denise in Difficult People, and can currently be seen as Becky on Fox’s smash-hit sensation Empire. Sidibe recently made her directorial debut with the short film, The Tale of Four. This Is Just My Face is her first book. She was born in Brooklyn and raised in Harlem, New York.

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