The world first met Ricki Lake in 1988 as Tracy Turnblad in the film Hairspray. Weighing in at just over 200 pounds, the 5’3″ teenager challenged what it meant to be an overweight woman in America: this fat girl got the guy, was part of the in crowd, and could sing and dance like nobody was watching. When she got her own talk show at twenty-four, Ricki had been transformed. She was a slender, mature woman whose long-running show changed daytime television forever. And when Ricki left it all behind to follow her heart and produce The Business of Being Born, we once again saw her in a new light, as a passionate advocate who wasn’t afraid to stand up for her beliefs and work for change. Ricki Lake’s life has been a series of rebirths—from fat to skinny, married to divorced, rich to poor, and more. In her intimate, bold, and relatable book, Ricki shows us how her unique life in the spotlight offers wisdom to anyone who has ever struggled in her own skin. She takes us behind the scenes of her troubled childhood—filled with food issues, abuse, and an unabashed yearning for a better life outside of her suburban home. She pulls back the curtain on her talk show and her early days as a “fat actress,” and she shows how she reinvented herself as an author, filmmaker, and much beloved finalist on Dancing with the Stars. Ricki weathered near-bankruptcy and an extremely difficult divorce, but, as she writes, life always hands you the unexpected—so you should never say never. Much to her surprise, Ricki has dated some of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors, appeared on the cover of Us Weekly magazine in a swimsuit, and fell in love when she least expected it. And now she’s ready to talk about it all. Never Say Never is an inspiring, entertaining, and down-to-earth account of one woman who defied the odds and refused to give up. By trusting her gut and following her heart, Ricki Lake turned an unconventional life into an unparalleled triumph, and this memoir stands as a hopeful, hilarious, and honest exploration of how any woman can do the same.
Received for Review
Overall Rating: 2.50
Story Rating: 2.00
Character Rating: 3.00
Audio Rating (not part of the overall rating): 3.00
NOTE: I am a huge fan of Ricki Lake! I adore her—she appears to have the gumption and hutzpah I wish I had in my daily life! This did not make me less of a fan of hers BUT I really kind of wish I wouldn’t have read it. Nonfiction is hard to review without seeming like you are talking negatively about the author directly. Please keep in mind at the end of the day—I am still a fan of hers, think she is terrific, and look forward to see what the future brings us from her!
First Thought when Finished: Ricki came across a lot more judgmental than I EVER thought she could be—that is a bit disappointing.
What I Loved: I love the fact that Ricki is so personable, real, and willing to cuss up a storm if the moment calls for it. Being a former fat girl myself, there is so much of Ricki’s journey that I can totally relate too. Good or bad she was willing to put it all out there–from her first experience to her recent finding of the love of her life. Ricki was just not willing to let you guess how she feels. That takes GUMPTION (yes in all caps) and you have to admire her for it.
What I Liked: I liked the glimpses into her life as a mom. This seems to be something that she not only takes very seriously BUT also handles how she talks about her boy’s father in the same manner. She seems to realize that once you make that step, the boys thoughts and feelings are numero uno. She was not negative in any fashion towards her ex and in fact seems to recognize that half of her boys are from him. KUDOS! That just endured her to me more!
What made me go huh?: 70% of this book just seemed to be full of negative–from not as smart as me, doesn’t live as well as me, and even friends aren’t quite good enough. While I am sure she really did not mean for it to come across that way, it was a chore to get through some of the stories without going really?? I guess I just didn’t see her as this hugely judgmental person and in the end I don’t think she is. I believe this just had to do with how the book was laid out and that there is a ton more to Ricki Lake than this book told!
Audio specific rating: I want to say this first–Ricki did a FANTASTIC job of reading her own story. I think she would actually make a terrific audiobook narrator. However, on the technical side there were quite a few long pauses at the end of the chapters. That was hugely distracting.
Final Thought: I am still a huge fan of Ricki Lake!