Review: ‘Scrappy Little Nobody’ by Anna Kendrick

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

I’m a relative late-comer to Anna Kendrick fangirl status. I’d seen her in various shows, but got a crush on her as Beca in Pitch Perfect. (I fairly regularly get crushes on people who can sing. It’s a thing.) Then I listened to Scrappy Little Nobody on audiobook and it went from crush to true love. ❤

The first thing you should know is that Anna narrates the audiobook version of her autobiography, and she reads it in a conversational way that made it feel like she was sitting in the car beside me (I listen to audiobooks while I commute, mostly), ranting about her first relationships and her childhood awkwardness. And the thing was, it was all so relatable … despite me not being a cute actor and Broadway star. (I am about her height, though, and I’m a brunette, so we’re basically twins?)

Anna focuses for the most part on the first 20 or so years of her life — how she got into acting, her first few roles, her first crushes and sexual partners. After that, the chapters/essays tend to hop around a bit more, dipping into various, celebrity-based experiences, like dodging the papparazi and presenting at an awards show. Anna more or less admits that she could have gone into a lot more detail, hinting at the various assholes she’s worked with over the years, but that she still wants to be able to get a job in the industry afterwards. (I look forward to the tell-all book she writes when she retires.)

For me, the single most relatable part of the book was the section about Anna dating. She says at the start of the book that she’s changed the names of a lot of the non-celebrities she talks about. Given how raw she is about some of them, I can see why! Her first three partners were assholes in one way or another, or had asshole-ish moments, and she is brutally honest about how she put up things from them that she shouldn’t have, simply because she was young and inexperienced and didn’t think she deserved any better. That basically describes most of my twenties (Anna was a faster learner than I was). She describes how her first partner slut-shamed her for enjoying sex, her second one was a self-absorbed “musician” with whom she couldn’t enjoy sex, and her third called her a slut because she refused to tell him how many partners she’d had before him.

Ugh.

Anna is also rather casual about mentioning drinking and drug use (mostly weed), and even more casual about swearing (I never found it unwarranted, but I do occasionally have a potty mouth myself). Those combined with her mention of her shoplifting phase are the sorts of things that might discourage some parents from letting their teens read this book, but that would be a shame. There are lot of good messages to be found in here, especially for teenage girls.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes, so you can see what I mean:

“Don’t try to participate in anyone else’s idea of what is supposed to happen in a relationship. You will fail.”
“But at nineteen I did spend a short and regrettable period in a classic trap: trying to fit into something I hated, just to prove to myself that I could.”
“Some bitter boys reading this might accuse me of ‘friend-zoning,’ but I’d like to say that even if a girl has misinterpreted a situation that someone else thinks was obvious, she does not owe her male friends anything.”

Advertisements

Review: ‘You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)’ by Felicia Day

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s work, you may remember Felicia from his hit internet web series, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. She played Penny. *sniff* She’s also been on Buffy, Supernatural, and lots of other shows … but before she was on Doctor Horrible, she created her own web series, The Guild.

The Guild is inspired by Felicia’s own experiences in online computer games, especially  her addiction to World of Warcraft. I had a WoW addiction myself there for a couple of years (though I still managed to go to work), so the show and its characters really resonated for me. In fact, I quit WoW when I got pregnant because I “didn’t want to be a Clara” (the sweet but very neglectful mother in The Guild).

So I guess I owe Felicia a big thank you for saving my son’s childhood! Yay!

All of this is by way of explanation for why I picked up this book, and why I loved it — and Felicia — so, so much.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a relatively quick read (or listen — I bought the audiobook, which is narrated by the charming Felicia herself). And it’s one I thoroughly recommend for geeks. If you didn’t understand my paragraph about WoW, then some of the stuff in the book may go over your head. Although Felicia does a really good job of making the geek jargon accessible, I am not qualified to say how good a job she did, because I already knew what she was talking about.

Felicia is very honest about herself, her upbringing and her failings: she describes herself variously as anxious, driven and a control freak, and provides many, many examples of each. The book reveals things about her that I didn’t know, including how awful things got for her after she got doxxed by GamerGate. (I wanted to give her a hug, and then set fire to certain parts of the internet.)

What she doesn’t talk about is her adult personal life. She mentions several times that she has a boyfriend, but if you’re expecting salacious details, don’t hold your breath — she never even says what his name is. On the other hand, given the doxxing, who can blame her? Likewise, she mentions that she’s no stranger to restraining orders and talks about a disturbed fan turning up at her house, but doesn’t go into details about any of it. Again, fair enough.

Still, if you want to hear funny anecdotes about her homeschool experience, singing lessons, university violin performance, acting experience and so much more, this book is wonderful. I especially recommend it for the embarrassing stories of Felicia geeking out over other celebrities at fan conventions. That made me feel so much better about my incoherent behaviour whenever I’ve ever met anyone even slightly famous.

Thanks, Felicia!

Five stars


Review: ‘Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography’ by Neil Patrick Harris

Today at Aussie Owned and Read I reviewed one of my current favourite books of the year, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! I tried to reblog it over here so no one misses out on hearing what an excellent book this is, but for some reason I can’t get the reblog function to work.

I fail at internet today, people.

Still, click on the above link and check it out. Spoiler: I gave it five stars!

Choose Your Own Autobiography