Book Review: Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

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‘It isn’t all sweetness and light sabres’

Carrie Fisher was born into the madness of Hollywood, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher grew up watching her parents sing, dance and act. Is it any surprise that this bundle of joy grew up to be one of the best known actresses of her generation? At the tender age of nineteen Carrie was catapulted into stardom after the release of Star Wars A New Hope as Princess Leia became the heroine girls wanted to be and the beauty the boys wanted to date. In Carries memoir, written to accompany her stage show of the same name, she reminds us that underneath the glamour of it at she had to cope with her own demons; addiction, mental illness and the media.

Now, if you didn’t know already I LOVE Star Wars, I got into it last year after finally watching the original trilogy (after being put off by the prequels on TV) and now I’m obsessed. Finding out that Carrie had written a memoir (she’s actually written a second and had a third coming out later this year) meant I had to get hold of a copy, especially as I knew it spoke openly and honestly about her experiences with  mental illness as well. There’s many reasons why I adore Carrie Fisher and her humor and ability to be open about having Bipolar Disorder is just one of them, before this turns into a post gushing about how awesome Carrie Fisher is let’s get on with the review.

When I started reading Wishful Drinking, I knew barely anything about Carrie Fisher in fact I knew about 4 things. I knew she’d played Princess Leia, that she also had a mental illness, that she was hillarious and that she is in love with her dog Gary. I knew nothing about her addiction, that she was a fiction writer or that she had famous parents. Going into this mostly blind I was shocked and in awe of Carrie and her achievements. The fact that at 19 she was relatively unknown and went on to be such a huge star would mess with most peoples heads, couple that with the rather odd upbringing she had (including having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother) Carrie appears to have developed a thick skin and a brilliant sense of humor. I laughed and laughed.

The memoir has gotten a lot of negative reviews for being ‘too short’ or having a hectic structure. While I can see where other readers get this view I felt that this accurately portrayed what Carrie was saying, the narrative perfectly fit the voice. Also, I’ve now watched the show and seeing as this was a supplement for those who couldn’t see it personally I can understand its length. If you’d like to watch it as well as reading, there are some great clips on youtube to give you an idea of how she performed this on stage, I absolutely loved it and wished I could have seen it live.

I also praise this for Carrie’s honesty, it feels like there is nothing she hides from us. She’ll tell you about her absolute lowest points in life, about the addiction she faced and the love she has for her daughter, Billie. With that in mind Carrie is in no way self pitying, she laughs at the past, her family and the craziness that has been her life. She’ll remind you that sometimes she forgets things because the Electric Shock Therapy she has for Bipolar Disorder wipe out a good portion of her memory. She makes us remember not to take life too seriously.

I gave Wishful Drinking four stars ****. I really enjoyed this as a quick read and an insight into Carrie’s life before, during and after Star Wars. What I like most though, is Carrie’s humor and positivity. I know how awful life can get when you’re sick and how much more you appreciate life when you’re better and Carrie absolutely embodies that. I highly recommend Wishful Drinking for anyone who wants a quick and hilarious read.

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet – Holly Bourne

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All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy.

Evie’s been the ‘crazy girl’ throughout school when her OCD took hold of her and everyone viewed as that and that alone. Now she has a fresh start she’s under control, apart from her annoying therapist, no one knows about her past so now she wants to be normal. The thing is normal isn’t as easy as it looks she needs to find some friends, find a boyfriend and have absolutely no one find out. Oh and getting rid of the medication is a good deal too.

This is the second of Holly’s novels that I’ve ready and she solidified her place in my top 5 authors of all time. There is no doubt that Holly can write but the most amazing thing is that she can make the mind of a teenager come alive on the pages. Am I Normal Yet is different though because it also raises awareness of what it’s really like to live with a mental health condition as a young person right now.

Speaking as someone who has been through mental health and is still going through it now I think that Evie’s fears and anxieties are real. I don’t have OCD but there are a lot of overlapping fears, especially when you start somewhere new. Do I tell my new friends? How will they react? Why am I on these meds? I hate my meds. What’s the point of all this? Am I crazy? Am I doing enough normal things? The list goes on and on. Bourne captures this perfectly. She also makes it clear

The medication debate is a big one too and I’m really pleased at it is finally in literature for young adults. Medication is a strongly debated subject specifically in regards to young people, it seems that everyone has an opinion on this and they don’t really understand. Medication is a very personal choice for some people it works, for some people it doesn’t I’ve met people on both sides. It’s sad that people are made to feel like they are somehow ‘fake’ if they take medication to help stabilize their illness, you wouldn’t ask a diabetic to stop taking their insulin.

There was also something unexpected in the novel too, it talks about feminism in a totally unapologetic way the girls aren’t just going out of their way to meet boys or talk about boys. In fact that’s even a point in the novel they swear to have conversations that don’t even mention boys. It’s actually pretty refreshing, of course relationships feature but they’re not the absolute only thing.

Of course I’m giving this novel five stars *****. Bourne is one of my favourite authors for a reason and I think I love Am I Normal Yet more than I did The Manifesto on how to be Interesting (check out that review too if you like the sound of Holly, she won’t dissapoint). Holly has a third book that I am yet to read which was her debut called Soulmates, so I’ll be reading and reviewing that soon too. As always well done Holly another fantastic novel.