Reviews

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star. When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.” What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
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The only thing more enticing for Streisand fans than reading her long-awaited nearly 1,000-page memoir is spending 48 hours listening to her read it. The audiobook will be even more in demand when patrons discover the bonus material: there are samplings from 50 Streisand songs sprinkled through the audiobook, including "People," "Stoney End," "Evergreen," "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," and live versions of "My Man" and "Silent Night." One song that gets more space than most is "How Deep Is the Ocean," Streisand's duet with son Jason Gould, whom she generously gives time to shine. An even better bonus is Streisand ad-libbing additional asides into her reading. These are usually just an extra sentence or two, but they add intimacy to the audio. At one point, she reads from her memoir about recording a make-it-yourself record at age 15 on December 29, 1959, and then ad-libs, "Oh my gosh. Can you imagine? My son was born on December 29th. I've always been fascinated by numbers." Streisand's writing style is conversational, which enhances the warmth of her reading. VERDICT A spectacular and heartfelt memoir, written with invigorating passion and read with endearing humor.—Kevin Howell


Publishers Weekly
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Streisand’s long-anticipated debut memoir doesn’t disappoint. Utilizing her own journals, her mother’s scrapbooks, and interviews with colleagues and friends, the decorated singer and actor delivers a thoroughly enjoyable survey of her life and career that—even at nearly 1,000 pages—never overstays its welcome. Streisand begins with her teenage adventures fleeing her emotionally distant mother and stepfather’s Brooklyn apartment for Manhattan, where she and a friend went to see Broadway plays and where she eventually moved and got her first taste of showbiz success singing in nightclubs. From there, she dives deep into her key projects and famous relationships, writing of being booted off the Billboard top two by the Beatles (“Their sound was sensational, so I had no complaints”), developing stage fright during her star-making turn in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, and falling in love with leading men from Elliott Gould to James Brolin. The tone throughout is delightfully garrulous, often verging on conspiratorial: Streisand offers detailed descriptions of not only who she rubbed elbows with, but what everyone ate, what they wore, how the room was decorated, and what she really thought about it all (at one point, she returns a dress Phyllis Diller bought her so she can use the money to purchase fabric for a custom design). That combination of fastidiousness and looseness, mixed with Streisand’s natural humor, makes for a deliriously entertaining autobiography that gathers heft from the sheer breadth of its author’s experiences and achievements. This is a gift. (Nov.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Fans of Streisand will find this difficult to put down, though at 900 plus pages they will frequently have to. Yet with the life she’s led, it’s hard to imagine the book being any shorter. In many ways, Streisand’s life is a fairy tale. A homely child, she lost her father at 15 months and was raised by a cold mother and a cruel stepfather. Dreaming of stardom, Barbra fled to Manhattan as a teenager. She was a sought-after singer by age 19 and a Broadway star by 22. Then a movie star. Then a director. She kissed many (famous) frogs until finding true love with actor James Brolin in her fifties. But Streisand’s story is also reflective of the difficulties facing many women, especially the societal distrust of those who want to claim their power. Streisand presents herself honestly here. She’s a perfectionist, sometimes humorless and often relentless, particularly when it comes to fulfilling her artistic vision. Yet members of her entourage have been with her for 40, 50, 60 years, and old loves and former collaborators remember her with affection and admiration. (She provides quotes). Peppered with boldface names and filled with too many musical and cinematic memories to count, this memoir is as extraordinary as the woman who wrote it.

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