Let me start by saying that I have been a huge fan of Lea Michele’s for a very long time now…about 8-9 years. I absolutely adored her in Spring Awakening, which I saw twice (it’s still my favorite musical to this day), and then went on to root for her when she switched to Glee, which, although I think it probably needs to end soon because it’s running its course, I’ve watched every episode of. So obviously I was expecting to just straight-up love this book. But…it was actually quite a disappointment.
Something I did really like about it was that it was sort of inspiring. Lea is an extremely hard worker and her story is truly a rags-to-riches seizure of the American Dream. Reading about her life might give young kids hope that dreams do come true and that diligence does pay off.
But, honestly, I found the entirety of the book to be quite stilted and even a little bit arrogant. Although we get the bare bones of the story of her life, no real detail is given about her personal relationships with anybody (except a short three-page chapter on Jonathan Groff)…even Cory Monteith. I don’t know exactly when Lea wrote this book, but she quickly references his death a few times and thanks him for reading the book in the acknowledgments. Maybe it was too soon for her to write about that time in her life that must have been awful. Or maybe she’d already finished the book. I’m not exactly sure how it went down. But something just seemed…off…without a special mention of his impact on her life in the book.
I fully expected the book to be memoir-style and share at least a few intimate details and give us an inside look into her life. But, it should be noted — this book is not a memoir. The vast majority of this book is written in the style of “Lea teaches us some life lessons.” It just came off as very know-it-all and self-righteous — like she lives her life just so, and it’s exactly how everybody else should live as well.
Here’s some example quotes, just so you can get an idea of what I’m trying to explain. The whole book is filled with stuff like this:
“My mother always taught me to respect my body — that you’re only given one and should take care of it that you can. I’ve really listened to her: I never treat my body like a garbage disposal and instead try to feed it only the best possible food.”
“Before I head to the airport, I always pack a lunch — I never eat plane food.”
“I love falling asleep wearing something pretty — or at the very least, something matching, even if it’s just a black T-shirt and black shorts. I don’t wear oversize T-shirts, and I don’t wear things that have holes. Ever.”
I’m sure Lea is very experienced and does know a lot, but this was not the kind of book that I was interested in and it definitely didn’t come off the way I think she intended it to. After a while, her relentless instructions on page after page of this book got really old. I started to resent that she felt like it was okay to give me advice on how I should be living my life. And when she wasn’t giving advice, it was tutorials. 30 pages on how to do hair and makeup to look just like Lea. 20 pages of her favorite recipes. 30 pages of the self-pampering techniques she uses. 20 pages of how to do Lea’s favorite backyard exercises. Just…really? I wasn’t expecting this book to be a how-to guide on how to literally turn into a Lea Michele clone. I wanted the real Lea. Her feelings, her loves, her hopes, her dreams. Not some canned representation of her perfect-in-every-way life.
This review might sound harsh, but I just feel like the book could’ve been done so much better. I was really looking forward to reading it, and was majorly upset by how fake it all seemed. After reading Brunette Ambition, I’m actually less of a fan. I just wish Lea could’ve made it more personal memoir-style book and less of a perky Californian healthy lifestyle guide. It is kind of advertised as being what it is, but I was still expecting more. I would’ve been fine if it had included the tips and had some personal stuff, as long as it didn’t have that snippy tone. But unfortunately that’s not how it ended up. I feel like a bitch for rating a “memoir” this low, but it’s just how I feel.