Like most people (I assume), I didn’t really know much about (read: had literally never heard of) Anna Kendrick until after I saw Pitch Perfect. And even that I didn’t do on my own. In fact, two of my best friends, upon hearing I had never seen it months after it had been out on DVD, dragged me to Walmart to buy it and “forced” me to watch it with them. I mean it’s not like I put up much of a fight, but they were super intense about making me watch it ASAP. And I mentioned multiple times before we started it that I was super nervous that after all their talking it up, it would fall short of that insanely high bar they’d set and I’d be disappointed. Well, I needn’t have worried. It is now one of my, and for sure one of my husband’s, favorite movies of all time. So of course, I started following Anna on Instagram, was psyched beyond words about the announcement of a second Pitch Perfect, and have super enjoyed further films with her (I mean really, with a cast like they had for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, I have no idea how it could not have been amazing and hilarious). So when I heard she wrote a book I was 100% in.
“I had slightly suspected this before reading Scrappy Little Nobody, but it’s confirmed now for sure, Anna Kendrick is my spirit animal. I may not be the first, or the most vociferous, person to say this…but I stand by it anyways. I “read” the book in audiobook version and am very happy with that decision. Anna reads it herself and, so far, is my absolute favorite self narrated author. Not really a surprise, but I’m glad that, yet again, my expectations were met. She read realisticly quickly and clearly, with the perfect amount of sarcasm and attitude, and by far the best inflection and enthusiasm of any audiobook voice I’ve experienced (which is starting to become a non-trivial amount).
I learned a lot about her life and “journey to the spotlight,” if you will. For example, I had literally no idea that she started on stage, and as a child actor (despite her very clearly outlined reasons for hating that phrase). I loved hearing about her journeys into “the city,” NYC, from Maine, first with her parents and then just with her older brother. We follow her experiences being on Broadway as a child, moving into independent film, and her decision to move straight to LA after high school. Then we get into the more well known “era,” if you will, of Up in the Air, Twilight, Pitch Perfect. And along the way, she sprinkles in the typical “celebrity book” stories of dating, making friends, the awkward ways she spends her time, the small obsessions she has, etc. I laughed out loud at her chapter on making plans for incredibly elaborate, but entirely fictional, holiday parties. I was surprised and interested to hear her insights into being a celebrity – that she was surprised at how much she still does for herself (she buys her own toilet paper still, thank you very much) and the paradoxes of that life, like spending $1000 she doesn’t have on a pair of shoes to look like she was famous enough to be asked to wear them by the designer and then, when she finally makes enough to afford that, being well known enough to get them for free. I identified so strongly with her woes over always being the smallest person in a class, her self-reflection on the years of doing the party thing to fit in but secretly being the “good girl,” dating the guys that aren’t actually into her. I really identified with many of her struggles: the guilt and anxiety, what it means to be an adult and how to get there, and, the biggest thing, the imposter syndrome. I think it’s fairly common for our generation, the “millennials,” to feel that apprehensive “waiting for someone to discover that I don’t actually deserve to be where I am” feeling. It’s both comforting and terrifying to know how widely it’s shared. Although there are definitely a few parts where things she wrote/said were a little problematic for me, in different ways, she is telling her story as she lived it and knows it and in general, throughout it all, I loved her tone, her voice, her snark. It really spoke to me.
This is the first book of this genre that I have read from someone more or less my age. Maybe that’s part of the reason I felt so strongly connected to Anna’s struggles and stories. Maybe that’s why everything was so awesomely relatable for me, despite the innumerable differences in our lives and experiences. Or, perhaps I was bias coming in because I already have such a huge soft spot for her. But regardless, I loved this book. It was fun and real and familiar and everything I wanted it to be.”