cover image Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up

Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up

Selma Blair. Knopf, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-65949-5

Actor Blair revisits in this bold and candid debut her odyssey through addiction, trauma, and illness. Born in 1972 in Detroit, Blair was labeled as a “mean baby” for the “judgemental, scrutinizing” look she perpetually wore. As she reveals, this pained expression would seemingly foretell the fraught childhood and adolescence to come—from binge drinking throughout her youth to escape hurtful put-downs from her mother (“How can you be so beautiful from one angle and so ugly full face?”) to suffering depressive episodes after being sexually assaulted in ninth grade by her school’s dean. Later, after a suicide attempt in college, she was raped during a spring break weekend. Blair’s recollections are harrowing, but they affectingly set the stage for a story of triumphing over one’s afflictions as she chronicles her path to becoming an actor. After months of struggle in her early 20s, Blair landed an agent and went on to star in Cruel Intentions (1999) and Legally Blonde (2001) before having her first child and, years later, receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2018. Nevertheless, Blair, in her typical fashion, finds a way to transform her burden into an opportunity, sharing her experience of living with MS with astounding candor and grace. This compassionate and intelligent work will leave fans floored. (May)