Books written by famous people who aren't famous for being writers are a bit of a crapshoot. While there has certainly been an uptick in the overall quality of these kinds of books, you can still never be certain as to just how enjoyable a read they will actually be.
Sometimes, however, they're even better than you expect.
Actress Anna Kendrick has a new book 'Scrappy Little Nobody' (Touchstone, $26.99) that is everything you want a celebrity-penned work to be. Kendrick's famed self-deprecating humor and self-styled weirdness is apparent on every page, imbuing this collection of autobiographical essays with a clever charm that is both rife with humor and very clearly from the heart.
These pieces range across the body of Kendrick's experience, exploring moments from just about every aspect of her life. She shares plenty about her younger days her childhood growing up in Portland, Maine and the time she spent working as a child actor on Broadway. She talks about the frightening decision to eschew college and move to Los Angeles to make a go of it as an adult actor a decision that would lead to a number of personal and professional misadventures along the way.
She shares her feelings regarding success and how it's all relative, talking about being nominated for (and losing) Tony and Academy Awards. She offers a glimpse inside some of the projects she has worked on over the years; we get a look at what it's like to be 12 years old on Broadway and a surprising peek at the experience of making the theater-kid cult classic 'Camp' not to mention her place as one of the longtime secondary residents of the 'Twilight' universe.
Kendrick is also forthcoming about many aspects of her personal life. She's unabashed in discussing just how weird a kid she was growing up a weirdness that has definitely continued shaping her personality to this day. We get a sense of her relationship to her family her hardworking parents and her far-cooler yet still protective older brother. She also shares a good deal about her interactions with the opposite sex; specifically, how kind of bad she is at them.
And overall, she never stops giving the reader the sense of someone who, while a bit definitely confused about how she got to where she is, is undeniably grateful for the experiences that got her here.
Too often, celebrities find it easier to adopt a persona, to become what they imagine the world wants them to be. I suppose it's possible that Anna Kendrick has done that as well, but the stories laid out in 'Scrappy Little Nobody' feel legitimately genuine. There's little doubt that the experiences she recounts are well-earned.
They're well-told, too.
The conversational style of Kendrick's writing leads to a confessional vibe; the overall effect is that of someone simply and honestly telling stories of her life's memorable moments. She never takes herself too seriously, even when the occasional serious idea makes an appearance. However, it never feels like self-deprecation for the sake of self-deprecation. You can tell when someone is trying hard to be funny; Kendrick's humor comes off as more or less effortless.
The book is broken down into sections: 'My Double Life'; 'Leaving the Nest'; 'Boys'; 'Hollywood'; and the titular 'Scrappy Little Nobody.' Every essay lands, though I've got my own personal favorites that last section is particularly strong - but your highlights may vary.
(Note: Please make a point of reading the bonus reading group guide that Kendrick has included at the end. It's delightful and one of the funniest parts of the book.)
You might not expect an autobiographical work from a movie star (and make no mistake despite what she might try to tell you, Kendrick is a movie star) to be particularly relatable, but 'Scrappy Little Nobody' will ring true to anyone who has felt like an outsider or an imposter. Even amidst the snarkiness which is plentiful the sincerity can't help but shine through.
In short, while she's undeniably scrappy and inarguably little, Anna Kendrick is definitely not a nobody.