I honestly don’t remember what made me want to buy this book, but I’m glad I picked it up. I was in the mood to read a memoir, and this one just jumped out at me. I love Gabrielle Union. She’s beautiful and funny, and she seems like a normal person. The first thing I remember seeing her in (though I know I’d seen her before) was the documentary Dark Girls. It comforted me to see that a woman who was so beautiful could relate to this experience, and that there were no exceptions to colorism. It made me feel like my skin wasn’t the problem – clearly there are beautiful people with dark skin – but the problem was with the people who tried to vilify it. Before I read this I really didn’t know much about her personal life other than the fact that she’s married to Dwyane Wade, so I knew I’d learn a lot from checking this out. If you’re looking for some good reading that’s easy to finish, you definitely wanna pick this up.
In this book, Gabrielle Union discusses the different stages in her life and talks about how she’s changed as a person. She spent her childhood in Pleasanton, California and Omaha, Nebraska, and she details how both places shaped her identity and how she interacted with other people. She also covers her acting career, her first marriage, race in all parts of her life, and the family she has today. This book is witty, well-paced, and Union’s tone comes through SO clearly in this book. It feels like she’s having a conversation with you, and it makes it so much more fun to read how she recounts her life’s events.
Length: 260 pages
Additional Sections: Introduction – it’s only 2 pages and it’s a cute setup for the book, read it
Year Published: 2017
The Good Stuff
It’s easy to tell from reading this book that Gabrielle Union has done some serious work on herself and that she’s reached a level of confidence and comfortability with who she is. She exposes many parts of her past that most of us try to cover up, and I commend her for that. I hope to reach that level of peace with myself so that I can really own every part of my story. I’m not there yet, but this was good inspiration.
I loved reading about Gabrielle’s childhood. She was so normal, and she was so much like me in some ways. My upbringing wasn’t quite as Caucasian as hers, but the desire to assimilate was very strong for me too. It’s always interesting to me to read how many black celebrities – particularly actors – were teased for “not being black enough” and are now icons in Black Hollywood. Union definitely falls into that category. The way she told stories was so candid and hilarious. My favorite story was how everyone was getting their period and when she got hers she had no idea what to do. I had a similar experience – no one told me you’re not supposed to insert the applicator, so I practically turned myself into a shish kabob the first time I tried to use a tampon.
Gabrielle Union is an excellent conversational writer. To me, this is what makes memoirs fun to read. I think when someone is trying to write in a way that’s too philosophical and almost preachy, it’s boring. I can’t relate to someone trying to pull a super profound lesson out of a story that could just be told for what it is. Union doesn’t try too hard, and that’s what makes her story so good. I loved reading about how she got started in her acting career. She gave a bunch of behind-the-scenes intel on some big roles she’s had and how being a black woman in Hollywood has affected her ability to work. I don’t really have a desire to be an actress, but I learned a lot. I hope that Gabrielle Union gets the respect she deserves for the contributions she’s made to the film industry.
If there’s one thing I learned from this book, it’s that Gabrielle Union can never be called a greedy person. Whew, this woman is giving. Probably a little too much. I don’t know how much you believe in astrology, but I wasn’t surprised to see she’s a Scorpio, which means she often gives a lot to the wrong people. Union talked about several of her romantic relationships, but the story of her ex-husband is one I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t even know she’d been married before. That guy’s a bum, by the way. Even the things that were incredibly embarrassing about her actions were addressed, and I admire her ability to own her narrative. It gave off the vibe of no one can expose anything about me, because I control how my story affects me.
Finally, I love how she talked about her current marriage. It was good to see her address being a stepmother, which is a reality for many women who get married when they’re in their 30s and 40s. Her relationship with Dwyane’s kids is beautiful, and it was nice to see how she’s become such a big part of their lives. It didn’t occur to me that his kids wouldn’t see themselves as susceptible to police brutality or racism because they’ve been rich their whole lives. I like that Gabrielle puts effort into making sure they understand how the rest of the world sees them, and that they know how dangerous it can be to be young and black in a super wealthy neighborhood, even if you live there.
What I Would Change
The only thing Gabrielle Union didn’t discuss in her book was the baby Dwyane had while they were broken up. I think that’s something a lot of people are curious about (I know I am), and she didn’t talk about the situation at all. I’m not sure if she wasn’t ready to talk about it, or if there was an agreement amongst family to not bring it up, but it seemed like a big thing to ignore. I also hope she comes out with another book where she talks about having Kaavia and about how she and Dwyane are raising Zaya, because I think many families could benefit from reading that story. Overall I like the book, and I learned so much about Gabrielle Union that made me like her even more.
Overall Rating: 9/10