Tag Archives: Memoir

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.

Review: Just Mercy

Just Mercy

Just Mercy
By Bryan Stevenson
Spiegel & Grau, 9780812984965, August 2015, 368pp.

The Short of It:

Haven’t seen the movie yet but the book will be one that I remember for a long, long time.

The Rest of It:

A long time ago, I was listening to a podcast and one of the people being interviewed mentioned Just Mercy as a book she would never forget. I immediately made a note to read it and then decided to pitch it for my book club to discuss. But then there was a school shooting and the meeting had to be rescheduled. Sad, but true.

So it should come as no surprise that Just Mercy is scheduled for this month’s discussion, right smack in the middle of a pandemic. I knew enough about the book to know that the topic is a heavy one. Bryan Stevenson’s fight to address Capital Punishment and how it affects minorities, the poverty stricken, and even young children, did not seem like a topic I could handle during quarantine but I didn’t want to postpone the discussion again so I dug in.

Very glad I did.

This is a book that everyone needs to read. Young, old, in school, out of school. I was expecting a very depressing read but this memoir, to my surprise, was not depressing at all. I found it to be full of hope. Stevenson’s passion for his clients and the way he often went above and beyond what is expected of a lawyer lifted me up in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Honestly, Stevenson is a form of superhero I can get behind. He is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and even that sounds formidable and it is.

His memoir covers many cases and challenges but centers around one particular client, Walter McMillan. McMillian had a solid alibi for his whereabouts the day a young woman was killed but it didn’t matter because the town needed a suspect and so the accusations stacked against Walter. How? Corruption, racism, people not wanting to be wrong.

When they say some people wear capes, I agree. Some do. Checkout Stevenson’s TED Talk and you’ll see what I mean.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.