A spirited look at stardom.



An actor’s intimate self-portrait.

In a gossipy, lively memoir, Grey (b. 1960) chronicles her evolving sense of identity—as a woman, actor, wife, and, most satisfyingly, mother—in what she calls an “ongoing coming-of-age story.” Born into an “extended family of Broadway royalty,” the daughter of actors Joel Grey and Jo Wilder, she was frequently uprooted between Los Angeles and New York, where her world was enlivened by her parents’ famous friends: actors, directors, artists, writers, activists, and even New York Mayor John Lindsay. “We lived in some extraordinary places,” Grey writes, “among extraordinary, accomplished humans.” Determined to be an actor, she enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre while, like many hopefuls, she worked as a server at a series of restaurants. Although she went out on plenty of auditions, she attributes her lack of success to her nose, which made her “not quite ‘pretty enough’ for the popular girl, but not awkward enough to pass for the loser.” Two roles charged her career: Matthew Broderick’s sister in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and Baby Houseman in Dirty Dancing (1987) with co-star Patrick Swayze. Grey recounts in detail the challenges of making and promoting Dirty Dancing, a movie that few had faith in—but that catapulted her to stardom. She is forthcoming about her many relationships, including with Broderick; Johnny Depp; an older director; a sexy hairdresser; and director and actor Clark Gregg, whom she married, recently divorced, and with whom she has a daughter. Grey has dealt with some severe health problems, drug and alcohol abuse, and persistent anxiety and depression. “Ambition had a strangely distasteful and negative connotation to me,” she writes, continuing, “I had never been a big fan of competition and was quick to avoid conflict.” Yet at the age of 50, she enthusiastically competed on Dancing With the Stars—and won.

A spirited look at stardom.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35670-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A fast-paced and boisterously readable assemblage of true stories.



A memoir offers vignettes from an entire lifetime.

In his latest work of nonfiction, Binder looks back on his life and renders several incidents and themes in a series of autobiographical stories. The author has led a picaresque life, with many adventures and crises, and he’s inserted many of these escapades into the entertaining, touching, and often enlightening tales arranged in these pages. He takes readers back to his childhood, painting affectionate portraits of the many people who influenced him while he was growing up. Binder includes a particularly memorable remembrance of his mother, who was felled by a serious stroke that robbed her of her speech (“Visiting her in the human warehouse they call a hospital, I’d point to letters of the alphabet printed on a card and she would blink to spell the word she wanted to convey”). He also gives readers a captivating, behind-the-scenes look at the famous child evangelist Marjoe Gortner. Binder worked on the crew that produced the Academy Award–winning 1972 documentary about Gortner’s illusion-dispelling revival tour, in which he exposed the deceits of his childhood ministry. The author watched all of this up close and relates it with enthusiasm and sympathy. (Sometimes a touch too much sympathy, since at one point even Binder seems convinced by the enthusiasm of the crowd: “I don’t believe in magic, nor do I believe in God, but I do believe in miracles. I witnessed one.”) Whether he’s recalling partying with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson in Las Brisas, Texas, or recounting the fracas he and his partner got into in 1966 at the Albany Convention Center when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was speaking (“Reporters grabbed at our feet trying to trip us up and bring us down. They failed. I was exhilarated”), the author has clearly told most of these tales many times in his life. These written versions are fine-tuned to perfection and provide a large and constantly moving banquet of intriguing moments.

A fast-paced and boisterously readable assemblage of true stories.

Pub Date: March 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9998695-5-0

Page Count: 363

Publisher: F-Stop Books

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2020

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An inspiring chronicle of a search for healing.



An emotionally wounded woman chooses a wild life.

In September 2016, Madia and her boyfriend—and soon, husband—decided to give up their Salt Lake City apartment and live in an old, rusted van, unheated, uninsulated, freezing in winter and suffocatingly hot in summer, which they affectionately named Bertha. They eventually added “a homemade shower, a roof box, bike rack, and solar panels,” making it look “like something out of a Mad Max movie.” Along with two energetic dogs, they roamed the west in a vehicle that repeatedly, and frustratingly, broke down in the middle of nowhere. In her candid debut memoir, Madia reveals her “curiously deep-seated need to be against,” which led her to embrace a decidedly unconventional life. Born and raised in a middle-class neighborhood situated between a wealthy Connecticut suburb and blighted Bridgeport, she grew up “at the center of shame and guilt and money and status.” She was rebelling, though, against more than consumerism and conformity. By the time she was in high school, her father had gone to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. After he cheated on her mother, her parents divorced, and she didn’t hear from him for years. In college, she became so depressed she was suicidal. “Perhaps it was the loss of so much that made me want so little,” she reflects. “The less I had, the less I’d have to inevitably part with.” Settling into a house, having a family, even holding a stable job felt constricting: “Fear and curiosity. Those, to me, became the essentials of being alive.” Madia describes in visceral detail the near disasters that she experienced, the horrific accident that nearly killed one of the dogs, and her evolution into an Instagram personality that gave her an audience eager for stories of her adventures. In social media, she finally found the validation and appreciation she longed for: “I loved being someone other women looked up to.”

An inspiring chronicle of a search for healing.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-063-04798-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

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