Thursday, November 17, 2016

Book Review: "Scrappy Little Nobody" by Anna Kendrick

So, I kinda have a thing for Anna Kendrick. I've been (healthily) obsessed with her since 2003, when she appeared in an indie movie called Camp, which was about kids attending a performing arts summer camp in upstate New York.

Anna played a young girl named Fritzi, who had an obsession with a girl named Jill, who starred in most of the plays that summer. But Jill mistreated Fritzi, so in the end, Fritzi got her revenge, as you'll see in the clip below. And fandom was born. (For those offended by strong language, the f-word appears once. Anna shows up about 25 seconds into the clip.)

Not only do I think she's an exceptionally talented singer and performer (I've worn out tracks from Into the Woods and The Last Five Years because I play them so much), but every time I see her on a talk show or make another appearance, I'm convinced that if we had anything in common (other than my admiration), we'd be super-close friends. We're both reasonably foul-mouthed, although not in a mean way (I hide it well when I have to) and totally sarcastic (again, not in a mean way), and neither of us suffers fools gladly. Seems like enough to build a friendship on, don't you think?

My instincts about her were definitely reinforced in Scrappy Little Nobody, her new collection of autobiographical essays which spanned from her childhood to the current time, tracing her anxieties, successes, fears, hang-ups, obsessions, and her sexual history. (Kind of.) This isn't a tell-all book in any way (although she has some nice things to say about a few celebrities, like Zac Efron), but rather a first-hand look at the growth of a star, from her earliest (disastrous) beginnings as a child in dance class to success, including Tony and Oscar nominations.

"I'd thought of myself as fearful and shrinking in childhood, but I was often single-minded and pugnacious. From age three onward I have been practical and skeptical and occasionally more courageous than I have any right to be."

At times uproariously funny (I seriously laughed out loud more than a few times) and incredibly self-aware, this is a tremendously entertaining book, but Kendrick isn't afraid to take herself down more than a few notches as often as she deems it necessary. Referring to her performing a local production of Annie when she was younger, she said:

"To this day, seeing a tattered brown cardigan or a pair of thin-soled lace-up boots makes my heart sing. In a costume context, not, like, on a person. I'm not some out-of-touch monster who sees real-world poverty and longs for the days of her musical-theater beginnings."

And of losing the Tony Award:

"I lost a Tony Award to Broadway legend Audra McDonald when I was twelve, so I've been a bitter bitch since before my first period...I also feel that if I had won and made a televised speech at age twelve, the delayed embarrassment would have been so severe, I'd currently be a Howard Hughes-style shut-in, but without the money for the mansion or the planes or the legion of servants to take away bottles of my urine."

This is frank and funny, and Kendrick doesn't mince words, and she says what's on her mind, so if candid conversation about her sex life and liberal use of curses bothers you, you might want to steer clear of this. But if not, this is the rare portrait of a talented star who takes herself less seriously than nearly anyone. It's refreshing and a hell of a lot of fun. (And I still think we could be friends once we stopped trying to one-up each other.)


  1. I have been seeing this book all over lately. It sounds like you enjoyed this memoir. Great review of why it worked for you. I love the quotes as well.

  2. Thanks, Karen! I'm a big fan of Kendrick's so this was a lot of fun. It's always great to learn your favorite celebs are a lot like you imagine (or hope) they might be.