Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Happy Accidents (Audio)

Summary: In the summer of 1974, a fourteen-year-old girl in Dolton, Illinois, had a dream. A dream to become an actress, like her idols Ron Howard and Vicki Lawrence. But it was a long way from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, and it didn’t help that she’d recently dropped out of the school play, The Ugly Duckling. Or that the Hollywood casting directors she wrote to replied that “professional training was a requirement.”

But the funny thing is, it all came true. Through a series of Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch created an improbable—and hilarious—path to success. In those early years, despite her dreams, she was also consumed with anxiety, feeling out of place in both her body and her family. To deal with her worries about her sexuality, she escaped in positive ways—such as joining a high school chorus not unlike the one in Glee—but also found destructive outlets. She started drinking almost every night her freshman year of high school and developed a mean and judgmental streak that turned her into a real-life Sue Sylvester.

Then, at thirty-one, she started to get her life together. She was finally able to embrace her sexuality, come out to her parents, and quit drinking for good. Soon after, a Frosted Flakes commercial and a chance meeting in a coffee shop led to a role in the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show, which helped her get cast in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Similar coincidences and chance meetings led to roles in movies starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and even Meryl Streep in 2009’s Julie & Julia. Then, of course, came the two lucky accidents that truly changed her life. Getting lost in a hotel led to an introduction to her future wife, Lara. Then, a series she’d signed up for abruptly got canceled, making it possible for her to take the role of Sue Sylvester in Glee, which made her a megastar.

Today, Jane Lynch has finally found the contentment she thought she’d never have. Part comic memoir and part inspirational narrative, this is a book equally for the rabid Glee fan and for anyone who needs a new perspective on life, love, and success. -- Hyperion Audio

You might not know this about me, but I am a huge fan of the television series Glee. Although I admit to enjoying the first season episodes much more than the later ones, I still watch the show every week and I love the kids, the music, Mr. Schuester, and of course, Sue Sylvester. So it's no wonder that I was interested in reading (or should I say listening to?) HAPPY ACCIDENTS: A MEMOIR by Jane Lynch, the actress who made Sue Sylvester a household name.

Prior to listening to HAPPY ACCIDENTS, I knew very little about Ms. Lynch's life. Of course, I know her from Glee and her role as Julia Childs' sister in Julie & Julia; and I even remember her appearing as Charlie's therapist on Two and a Half Men as well as roles in the movies The 40 Year Old Virgin and A Mighty Wind. However, most of my knowledge about Ms. Lynch's career has been fairly recent. I was excited that HAPPY ACCIDENTS gave me some insight in the history of her acting career -- the tough road she hoed prior to getting "regular" work. In her early career, she held roles in different comedy and acting troupes and did some commercial and voice over work, but it wasn't until her late 30s/early 40s that her television and movie career really took off.

In addition to learning some very interesting things about Ms. Lynch's professional life, I appreciated getting to know about her personal life as well. The book begins when Ms. Lynch was a young teenage girl, and it's incredibly honest about the problems she had growing up in suburban Chicago. While she always knew she wanted to be an actress, she wasn't as comfortable with her friends, family, school, and sexual orientation. In fact, she goes into details about the difficulty she had in accepting herself and eventually coming out to her family. Furthermore, she is extremely open about the relationship woes and commitment issues that she faced in her adulthood. I don't think you can read HAPPY ACCIDENTS and not be affected by Ms. Lynch's candid nature about the pain she experienced during her lifetime.

And there is more! Ms. Lynch also gave vivid details about her partying days -- and paryting she did! She tells stories about her love of beer and wild times with her co-workers. In addition, she gives specifics about how she realized she had a drinking problem and then her eventual success working the AA program. I found these parts of her story to be wise and inspirational.

I always feel like I'm not the best person to review audio books because I'm still such an audio book novice. However, I really did enjoy listening to HAPPY ACCIDENTS. The main reason for my enjoyment was the narrator who was none other than Jane Lynch herself. I thought she did a fantastic job. Of course, she has done her fair share of voice overs during her career and she has an excellent speaking voice, so it wasn't quite a surprise to me. I just felt as if her voices (both the reading and writing one) were very authentic.

If you are a fan of Sue Sylvester's or Jane Lynch's, then I definitely recommend listening to HAPPY ACCIDENTS.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this audio book.


Serena said...

I remember Lynch on Two and A Half Men...I thought she was good as Charlie's therapist. I'm not into glee, but this memoir sounds like it was a good fit for you.

bermudaonion said...

I'm not that familiar with Lynch's work - I remember her in the 40 Year Old Virgin but not in Julie and Julia. It sounds like she's had her share of sorrow in life, and that her success is well deserved.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I only watched Glee a couple of times, so I'm probably not a good audience for this book!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

It's always interesting to read the memoir of an actress we admire. I'm not much of a TV viewer and therefore not familiar with this actress.

Billy Burgess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy Burgess said...

Great review.

Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer