The charming start to my Memoir Monday series couldn’t have been a more entertaining read. And look at that photography – where can I buy that dress?! Gabourey Sidibe has had an interesting life thus far, and shares her first quarter with us. Three main themes stuck out for me.
It was interesting to learn about how non-traditional her family was. From her parents’ green card marriage to her father’s Senegalese heritage, reading her stories that take us on a journey through Senegal and polygamy to her mother’s insistence on being independent and singing in the subway, you’ll probably keep asking yourself how they did not end up homeless. I found myself holding my breath when they moved out after her dad brought his second wife to America, when her mom stopped teaching and decided to sing in the subway, and when Gabourey moved out on her own and her mom and brother were erroneously evicted. I couldn’t believe how often she and her brother traveled to Senegal with her father, and how they were treated by his family there. All of this was happening in New York City, which makes the financial elements that much more daunting. Her family history alone is enough to hang a solid memoir on.
I was so intrigued by how Gabourey describes her relationship with her body, especially her decision to have weight-loss surgery. I was thankful that she was truthful without getting too gritty – the message that this was a tough time in her life is delivered loud and clear without gorey details; I appreciated her levity. I could sense that she was expecting critics to clap back at her about the weight loss surgery, but she addresses it well and is clear that your decision about your body is your own and you should do what is best for you and your health. Her writing on this topic was inspirational and reminded me to continue on my quest to be okay with my body.
The only part of the story that felt…like it was missing something? was her path to her role in Precious. Wouldn’t it be great if things just happened to come together at the right time while we’re working for a phone sex company? If what psychics predicted about us randomly at different moments in our life came to be? I mean, I believe her because there have been too many moments in my own life when I happened to be in the right place at the right time to think it’s impossible, but here was where details seemed to be lacking. I’m not sure it matters though, she’s here now and we’re all better for it.
This was a short, informative, enjoyable memoir. Even if you have never seen her act you should learn her story. Don’t miss it.