The actress best known for her portrayal of outrageous, uncouth Joy on My Name Is Earl, revisits her bucolic North Carolina childhood and her quest to become a professional model and actress.
Pressly copiously details the idiosyncrasies of her large, boisterous clan, a tight-knit collection of big personalities that includes a critical, charismatic grandmother, a courageous gay uncle and a disappointed mother, a would-be dancer resigned to her role as a small-town dance instructor and family woman. In graceful, articulate prose, the author portrays this quintessentially Southern brood with clear-eyed affection and understanding, but she lacks the chops to bring her relatives to life as compelling characters. Instead, she delivers anecdotes, family lore and a plethora of “colorful” Southern idioms, all in the service of trite life lessons and sentimental reveries. Reading them is like sitting through a garrulous stranger’s vacation slides; she had a great time, but the experience doesn’t translate. Pressly left her insular world as a teenager to pursue modeling and acting in Los Angeles, where she fell out with her mother, adopted the family of her best friend, got romantically involved with a gang member and found success in her chosen field after a bit of faltering. None of this is the stuff of high drama, and the author’s easy, wry style further lowers the tension. Pressly seems reluctant to address her status as a sex symbol or her presumably amusing and/or disturbing experiences in the disreputable exploitation vehicles that established her celebrity. She says that she wrote this memoir for her baby son to teach him about his roots. It’s a sweet sentiment, but it leaves the general reader with the bland, white-washed history of a minor celebrity.
Earnest and heartfelt, but egregiously inessential and dull.