All The Lives I Want – by Alana Massey

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All the Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey

Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Feb. 7 2017)

ISBN-13: 978-1455565887

Synopsis: From columnist and critic Alana Massey, a collection of essays examining the intersection of the personal with pop culture through the lives of pivotal female figures–from Sylvia Plath to Britney Spears–in the spirit of Chuck Klosterman, with the heart of a true fan. 

Mixing Didion’s affected cool with moments of giddy celebrity worship, Massey examines the lives of the women who reflect our greatest aspirations and darkest fears back onto us. These essays are personal without being confessional and clever in a way that invites readers into the joke. A cultural critique and a finely wrought fan letter, interwoven with stories that are achingly personal, ALL THE LIVES I WANT is also an exploration of mental illness, the sex industry, and the dangers of loving too hard. But it is, above all, a paean to the celebrities who have shaped a generation of women–from Scarlett Johansson to Amber Rose, Lil’ Kim, Anjelica Huston, Lana Del Rey, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. These reflections aim to reimagine these women’s legacies, and in the process, teach us new ways of forgiving ourselves.

* * *

A book about female figures (in the entertainment industry – both known and not so well known) to help empower women; how perfect does that fit into current day society? When I started this book, I was expecting some light hearted essays about famous women that show their independence and influence in society. If this is what you are expecting also – be ready for a shock.

Massey writes in a blunt serious prose, exploring issues that have affected women (including: mental illness and the sex industry) for decades. Through her essays, she uses the woman (or women’s) experience to help reflect and inspire, while also tying it to herself. I found Massey’s blunt style of writing kept her from over-explaining and classifying the women she was discussing; often this left the reader to form their own (evident) conclusions.

The novel is very well researched with a scholarly sound to it – and is so relevant, which I found made me enjoy it even more. This is a heavily female centric book – but a male reader could still enjoy it. BUT I do suggest that every woman between the ages of 16 to 45 read this book; Share with your friends, sisters, mother, daughter!

Rating: 9/10
*I received this book from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review*

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