Some may call Beyonce the queen. She’s taken the world by storm by dropping surprise albums with insanely catchy beats, having an impossibly cute family and always looking flawless. But
for me, I’ve always had another celebrity queen: Ms. Lea Michele.
Lea Michele is probably most commonly known for playing Rachel Berry, the main character of the musical-comedy TV show, Glee. Prior to starring in Glee, the actress worked in musical theatre and famously played the lead role in the rock musical Spring Awakening.
My love of Michele developed sometime during the middle of my senior year of high school, in the crux of my discovery of Spring Awakening and Glee. I was convinced that these two works were the only things that truly captured my feelings on my tortured life in middle-class suburbia. My love of the main characters progressively led to a love of Michele and in my mind Rachel Berry and I were one in the same.
Over the years, I’ve followed Michele’s work religiously. I still watch Glee, even though it took a massive nosedive in quality after Season 3. I pre-ordered her debut album on iTunes. And when she was on the cover of Elle, I hunted for it through the streets of Boston until I found a copy in at Walgreens.
Needless to say, when I was excited when Michele announced last May that she was publishing a book. I was also a bit confused. What qualified this star of stage and small screen to write a book? Nonetheless, I looked forward to what Michele described as “an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.”
The book came in the mail on a Tuesday, announced by a ring of the doorbell indicating that I had a package. I opened it with a shriek of delight. Here it was: a delicious treat to add to my summer reading buffet. I promised myself that I would not start it until I finished Orange Is the New Black. Yet, I couldn’t help, but sneak a peek at the inside flap. There it read:
“Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker.”
And so on. I wondered if she wrote this herself or someone else wrote it for her. Either way, it seemed a bit pretentious. The waves of caution were already setting in.
Still, I put on Lea’s album, Louder and settled in. The book is divided into ten chapters focusing on subjects such as food, fitness, style and aspects of Michele’s personal life.
When I first heard about the book, I was expecting it to be an insight into the world of Lea Michele and how I could take her formula for success and apply it to my own life. Instead, the book read more like a very long, inspirational speech. Michele used the phrase “I urge you”, no less than three times, making me feel like I was listening to a politician running for election rather than reading the book of my favorite celebrity. It should’ve come as no surprise when I closed the book and found it was listed under “self-help.” I was horrified nonetheless. The whole thing, from the very first words on the insight flap, seemed a bit pompous.
My problem with this book was not only its tone, but it’s overall focus. It didn’t concentrate on the things I admire about Lea Michele. I don’t really care about her beauty routine. I don’t tune into every episode of Glee because I like her vegan lifestyle. And honestly, I completely glazed over the part that included her workout regiment.
What I admire about Lea Michele is her work. The characters she’s played and work she’s done have had a significant impact on my life. I wanted to read about why she chose these roles and what they meant to her. I didn’t want to hear about how to live like Lea Michele. I wanted to read about the life of Lea Michele. How did she deal with feeling so different from everyone else due to her Broadway ambitions? How did she overcome heartbreak? All these answers were hinted at, like wisps of fresh air breaking through Michele’s stiff literary facade. But the book’s overall peppy and rigid tone did not reveal what I wanted to know.
What was wrong for me was not the book itself, but what the book is as a whole. Basically, what I wanted was not a how-to guide. I wanted an autobiography.
Do I regret reading this book? Not at all. But I advise any fans or curious readers to prepare themselves beforehand. This book is really a book on how to live Lea Michele’s life. If you want to read about an all-natural lifestyle, go for it. But anyone else: proceed with caution.
And Lea, on the off chance you’re reading this: write an autobiography next time. Or better yet, let me write it for you! Despite my less than perfect review, I still remain a loyal fan.