A (very brief) plot overview
Essentially what it says on the tin – Lily Allen’s life so far in her own words.
What’s good about it?
For someone who grew up reading stories in trashy magazines about Lily Allen’s lifestyle and her celebrity feuds, it was nice to hear her side of the argument as well as to get her take on how she felt about all of her fallings out now. Reading it felt a bit like reminiscing on my own teenage years and reminded me how much I used to like Lily Allen and her music.
To her credit, she doesn’t try and sugar coat over the things that she did. Sometimes it is quite painful to read. A lot of Lily Allen’s honesty is really refreshing and written about important things like stalking, addiction and celebrity culture which I think can only serve to help others who might find themselves in situations like she did. She gives a great insight into why celebrities go ‘off the rails’ and just how toxic an industry it is. For anyone who wants fifteen minutes of fame, this would be a good book to read just to realise what price comes with that. No one ever really tells you how bad it can get in graphic detail, but Lily Allen does. You have to admire her honesty with that because I can imagine some of the stuff she wrote annoyed a lot of people with power, money and influence over her career. Plus when she writes about the loss of her son, George, you really do feel for her. One of the best things about Lily Allen has always been her honesty and in a lot of ways this book really didn’t disappoint. I can imagine sometimes it was really hard for her to write down the things she had done, to admit them and know that they would be out there for people to gossip about, but she did it. Some parts could really help people and anything that has an edge to it that could help is something worth looking at.
What’s not so good about it?
I know that all autobiographies are a little narcissistic, but to me this takes it to a whole new level. Lily Allen portrays herself as a bit of a victim who never had anyone there for her, who did everything on her own without help from anyone, who was thrust into the world of celebrity only to be slated and hated by everyone through no fault of her own, who then had to ruin her own marriage but only because her husband didn’t come and save her from herself. It was just really hard to go along with as a reader. You can’t insult other celebrities and not expect them to come back at you. You can’t make brash comments about drug use then get shocked when journalists report about it. You can’t tell the man you marry that you want to be a stay at home, country life mum then go on tour, have wild drugs binges and cheat on him every chance you get and then be shocked when things don’t work out. There was a lot of hypocrisy that just didn’t sit well with me personally. It was a really weird dynamic to read something that was so honest but written with so, so much personal bias. I can imagine a lot of situations she writes about would be told entirely differently if you asked anyone else present.
I also find the level of privilege she writes from but claims she doesn’t problematic. She writes about how her dad never did anything for her, yet he was responsible for her first recording deal. She writes about how even though people say she came from a privileged background, she didn’t – yet I don’t know many people who grew up going backstage at Glastonbury every year, getting roles in films because their mum worked on them or being in the position to flit from private school to private school (some schools she went to were public, fair enough, but even the position to go to one private school once is a position of privilege). By the sound of things, Lily Allen and her dad have an incredibly fractured relationship and yes she works hard and writes her own material, but there still is a level of ‘hang on, you definitely had a bit of a helping hand’. I don’t begrudge her for it – if I had access to the things she had, I would have done the same – but just own it. I think I’d have respected her more if she just owned her choices without being like ‘I did it, yes, but this person was to blame/didn’t help me/wasn’t there for me/didn’t do what I wanted’.
Rate me: 5/10
I really, really wanted to love this… but I just couldn’t. Parts of what she wrote I read thinking ‘yes, the world needs this to be said right now’ but then other times I was close to closing the book and giving up on it.