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Even though I love a good YA novel, memoirs are high up on the list of types of books I enjoy reading. I’m fascinated by the lives of people who have found success in interesting and sometimes obscure ways. I also enjoy reading about people who have suffered in the most unimaginable ways and were able to fight their way to get to a life that they could be proud of live comfortably in.
I enjoy reading celebrity memoirs, particularly by women. Reading about the lives of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey and other powerful women in the entertainment industry inspired me in spite of the fact that I have no desire to live a life in the spotlight. I liked the fact that the stories they told were a perfect mix of funny, tragic and inspirational. They shared how their home lives as children and adolescents shaped them and that they found success in some of the my obscure ways. Those were some of the things that I was looking forward to when I picked up Wildflower by Drew Barrymore. Unfortunately, it’s not what I found.
I’m going to preface this by saying that I adore Drew Barrymore. I wasn’t a fan of E.T. because that alien creeped me out, but I wore out my Babes in Toyland VHS before I came to love her in later films like Charlie’s Angels and 50 First Dates. I knew a little bit of the tough life that Drew lived, such as being emancipated at age 14 and being estranged from her father, and I was looking forward to learning more about her and getting her head a bit more. Unfortunately, I don’t think I got to know much about Drew through reading this book.
If Drew had written this book prior to having kids, it would have been entirely different. It’s almost like she filtered herself and only shared the sunshine-y bits of her life. I guess with a title like Wildflower, I should have known, but getting to the end of the book just left me wanting so much more. I understand that there are personal things that she wouldn’t want to share, but I feel like more people would benefit from her sharing her story if she really got into the nitty gritty and darker parts of it. Instead, she barely scratched the surface of any of the hardships she had growing up. To me, it was almost like the most difficult thing she went through was learning how to do her own laundry. I mean, she had a whole chapter about making raw pancakes. I would’ve skipped over it if I hadn’t been listening to the audio book.
There were a few parts that I enjoyed and stories that actually did resonate with me. She wrote a chapter about losing her dog, Fluffy. This actually made me tear up a little because I recently lost my dog. Fluffy and my dog, Molly, both died peacefully in her sleep, and listening to her recount the story of finding her dog dead really, really got to me.
I also really enjoyed a few of the later chapters where she talked about traveling. This made my wanderlust desires go into high gear. It was interesting to hear about some of the experiences she had overseas, particularly the ones in Germany and India.
The thing that bothered me most about this book is that I really get anything from it. Aside from the chapter about Fluffy, nothing made me feel anything. I didn’t learn any life lessons. I didn’t get inspired about anything. This is literally Drew Barrymore telling short stories about her life. It’s like her intention was to write about herself and not to inspire others through her stories. If her intention was in fact just to tell some stories about herself, then she really nailed it.
These are a few noteworthy quotes:
“We are not tethered. We are capable of going anywhere we want anytime we need.”
“Love is the one uniting, relatable thing in everyone’s life. It’s what we all want and struggle with and fight for.”
“There is as much merit in trying to ease people’s suffering for a moment as there is in focusing on it.”
“To believe in yourself beyond yourself is key.”
“Working with people you like will make you want to work more.”
“Work takes giving it your all or it will not get done right. You have to kill yourself. Do your homework. Exhaust yourself. Focus on every detail. You have to put all of yourself into something with your heart and your gut instinct, your personal believe, or it will not get done right, which can lead to failure, even if that failure is just knowing that you cut corners, and that is not an option.”
I give this book 2 out of 5 stars. I’m sad to say that there was very little about this book that captivated me or made me want to learn more about Drew. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to any of her stories (aside from the one about her dog), and I didn’t feel inspired in any way. If you’re a fan of Drew Barrymore and just want to learn more about her life, then I definitely recommend this book to you; otherwise, I’d say just stick to following her on Twitter. Just kidding. She hasn’t tweeted since 2014.