Review: Brat – An 80’s Story

Brat: An 80's Story

Brat: An 80’s Story
By Andrew McCarthy
Grand Central Publishing, 9781538754276, May 11, 2021, 240pp.

The Short of It:

This is probably the first time I’ve ever found myself completely enamored by a memoir.

The Rest of It:

Most people know who he is. Andrew McCarthy did many films, perhaps not all of them successful but films like Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, St. Elmo’s Fire and Weekend at Bernie’s were surprisingly successful and seemed to make him a household name. My favorite film Less Than Zero, is oddly enough, not McCarthy’s favorite by far. From the title, you would think that much of this book is about the 80’s and yes, there’s plenty of that decade covered in this book but it’s more about how the term “brat pack” made and broke, what was a very vulnerable kid just trying to find himself.

The push-pull nature of McCarthy’s story is so readable. He was given some breaks but never felt that he belonged. His insecurity about who he was or who he was being asked to portray, caused him a great deal of nervousness and anxiety. He would often self-sabotage himself by consuming too much drink, and later drugs. The substance abuse only masking his insecurities for the moment.

Anyone who has ever doubted themselves can relate to his story. There’s a raw, vulnerability here which I always felt came through his characters too. This is not a story about Hollywood and all of its glitz and glam and it’s not about what we all perceived to be wild success. This is a story about a young man struggling to find a place for himself in the world.

What I really loved about this book is that it so delicately balances what we expect from him, and what he needed to share with readers. He includes plenty of information about each of his films and how they came to be. He also includes a lot on the business of acting itself, which is why I am handing this copy over to my daughter for her to read. But in addition to all of that, he tells us about his family, introduces us to the people who made an impact on him along the way, and what he’s learned from it all.

I’ve read McCarthy before and he’s quite a good writer but he really outdid himself with this one. If you ever wondered what happened to him after the 80’s, you might recall some TV shows he was in and his directorial work for the very popular Orange is the New Black series on Netflix. In my mind, he has had a very successful film career but with this book, I feel that he’s firmly planted his shoes into writing and I hope that’s the case because I would love to read more from him.

Note: This book comes out May 11th so pre-order it now!

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

18 thoughts on “Review: Brat – An 80’s Story”

    1. I read his last book too which was a long time ago and I thought he was a beautiful writer then but this one is really very good. I hope you enjoy it!

  1. Wish I’d known this was coming out before the end of 2020 so I could have pre-ordered it. Much as I joke about it, I don’t think a couple tweets count as a friendship so I’m not allowing myself to buy a copy of the book, for now. Maybe in 2022.

    1. I don’t buy many books but I don’t think I could impose a ban like that on myself. Well, you will have something to look forward to when you can buy again.

      1. I’ve been collecting books for decades. When I was broke, I bought at library sales and secondhand bookstores, swapped, went to garage sales, and bought at a discount when I worked in a bookstore. Every room of our house, excluding the bathrooms and kitchen, has bookshelves and my dedicated library spills into the walk-in closet, hence the buying (and library) ban. I haven’t even made a dent in them with my 2 months of buying ban, so I’m considering never buying again. But, I’ll let myself return to the library in 2022.

        I said similar to a friend and he said, “Whoa, give yourself a year. You don’t need to already plan to ban buying books next year, too.” LOL But, I can’t help it. I feel like I just need to stop. It’s going to be hard with books like this that are more tempting. I loved his travel book.

        1. Why do you think you haven’t made a dent in your pile? It seems like you’ve been reading plenty. I tend to not keep much unless they mean something to me or are signed. My shelves in the loft are keepers and the other two places I keep books are always rotating out due to review copies. They are temporary and stay that way. Those books are usually read, reviewed and given away. If I find myself adding to the keepers then once a year I go through them to decide if they are still all keepers.

          1. It’s about sheer quantity. While I read plenty, I have literally thousands of books. In the room with my computer, I have one wall that’s entirely shelves and cabinets filled with books, floor to ceiling. And, that’s just one wall. The other shelves in this room aren’t so tall but they’re also filled to the brim. And, I do get rid of books if I don’t think I’ll ever read them again, donate lots of children’s books, pass them on to friends, etc. I have boxes and piles in the dining room that have been waiting for the pandemic to end so I can donate them. It’s funny; I’ve always loved being surrounded by books and I still do, but I think I’ve just hit an age marker or something. Now it’s time to slim down the possessions.

            1. Don’t feel pressured but it would be cool if your featured some of your collection via shelf posts on the blog. I love to look at other people’s shelves.

  2. Would be nice to read this book just for the 80s references. I haven’t followed McCarthy a lot so I may give the book a pass but glad to hear that it was a win!

  3. I had such a crush on him in the ’80s! This book sounds so good and I’m adding it to my TBR list. Thank you!

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