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May 2017

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

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: People who like a good memoir.

In a nutshell: Actress / director Gabourey Sidibe share stories from her life, from youth through Precious and beyond.

Line that sticks with me: “I’m struggling to find the healthy balance between food, feelings, and actual hunger while people on social-media sites continue to make fun of me. Meh. Fuck ’em. I’m prettier than they are anyway.”

Why I chose it: I know very little about Ms. Sidibe, and also I love a good memoir.

Review: If you know who Ms. Sidibe is, it’s probably because you saw her in Precious, or you watch her in Empire or American Horror Story. She’s fantastic on Twitter, and seems to have a confidence about her that I dream of having. Her book gives us insight into her life, and how she got to where she is now.

A few things stood out to me. One is a bit of a parallel between her life and Anna Kendrik’s in that they both were in movies that were clearly going to be wildly successful and people thought of them as rich and famous when in reality they were still quite broke. Another is how Ms. Sidibe is able to explain, without sounding like an ass, some of the troubles she faces now that she has a successful acting career.

The sections I found to be most interesting, however, were the ones where she talked about her relationships with her family and her attempts to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. The story of her parents’ relationship with each other, her living situation, her attempts to figure out how she could be her healthiest, all let the reader in to knowing this person better. I’ve read some memoirs that seem to linger about an inch below the surface; Ms. Sidibe makes the reader think we’ve gone to the Marianas Trench with her. It’s possible she’s holding back; either way that’s some masterful storytelling.

The book ends a bit abruptly, but near the end, as she talks about why she chose the write the book, I was reminded of how the exercise of autobiographical writing — whether for millions or just yourself — can be illuminating and cathartic. I know some view ‘celebrity’ memoirs as cash grabs or narcissism, and I’m sure some are, but ones like this feel organic and honest, which is what I’m looking for.

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