There’s nothing groundbreaking, but the actress comes across as down-to-earth, likable, and humanly fallible.

The former Glee star looks back with amusement and a feisty attitude on a career in modeling and acting.

As a child, Rivera did commercials for Mattel and OshKosh and had a role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before she hit an acting dry spell in her teens and early 20s. In her debut book, the author pays as much attention to her less-glamorous years, when her family was struggling and moving frequently, as she does to the Glee ones, where she gets into at least a few of the juicy details of cast gossip—complete with drugs and plenty of bed-hopping—that fans are likely to be hoping for. She includes excerpts from the nightly “to do” lists she faithfully kept for herself in junior high and high school, in which entries like “get new eye sleeper mask,” “get some more money,” “take back miniskirt,” “take back shorts to V. Secret” alternate with heavier thoughts such as, “figure out God stuff” and “think about something other than material things.” Each of the chapters ends with a list of relevant experiences for which Rivera is sorry and an equally long one of those for which she is not: she’s sorry, for example, about “wall mounting a TV in a rental,” “hooking up with a married dude,” and “buying cars I couldn’t afford. Eff the Mercedes—I should have gotten a Honda.” She’s not sorry about “learning to memorize lines before I even learned to spell” and the “boob job” she got at 18. Rivera writes frankly about her anorexia during high school and an abortion she had while she was working on Glee, about which she still feels guilty. The volume is illustrated with pictures of Rivera from childhood to the present.

There’s nothing groundbreaking, but the actress comes across as down-to-earth, likable, and humanly fallible.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-18498-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2016


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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