Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (With Great Hair)

Rosie Perez. Crown Archetype, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-95239-4
Rosie Perez, actress, choreographer, and activist known for her roles in films such as Do the Right Thing and White Men Can't Jump, opens up about everything from her difficult upbringing in a home for girls run by nuns to the breaks and trials of fame and silver screen success. Perez's life takes an unexpected turn when, living in L.A. and taking college classes, she is plucked from a crowd of dancers at a club to appear on Soul Train. Soon enough, Spike Lee discovers her at a "butt contest" and she is cast in his breakout film. While die-hard Perez fans may appreciate peaks at the actress' early life, the book otherwise falls flat. Perez speaks from the heart when describing an abusive childhood, but the carefree prose doesn't do the darker material justice. There is very little entertainment tell-all here: we learn that her mother suddenly turned kind after Perez became successful, there was drama with the Fly Girls on In Living Color, and that Jennifer Lopez was, as much as Perez liked her, challenging to work with. Half difficult-childhood tale, half celebrity-memoir, both storylines end up lacking. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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