Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair)

It is time for another book review. This is an autobiography written by the actress Rosie Perez. This book was amazing. I took my time reading this book and read about 2-3 chapters each night so that I could stop and think about what she had experienced in her childhood.

This is what is said on Good Reads regarding this book.

Rosie Perez first caught our attention with her fierce dance in the title sequence of Do the Right Thing and has since defined herself as a funny and talented actress who broke boundaries for Latinas in the film industry. What most people would be surprised to learn is that the woman with the big, effervescent personality has a secret straight out of a Dickens novel. At the age of three, Rosie’s life was turned upside down when her mentally ill mother tore her away from the only family she knew and placed her in a Catholic children’s home in New York’s Westchester County. Thus began her crazily discombobulated childhood of being shuttled between “the Home,” where she and other kids suffered all manners of cruelty from nuns, and various relatives’ apartments in Brooklyn.

Many in her circumstances would have been defined by these harrowing experiences, but with the intense determination that became her trademark, Rosie overcame the odds and made an incredible life for herself. She brings her journey vividly to life on each page of this memoir—from the vibrant streets of Brooklyn to her turbulent years in the Catholic home, and finally to film and TV sets and the LA and New York City hip-hop scenes of the 1980s and ‘90s.

More than a page-turning read, Handbook for an Unpredictable Life is a story of survival. By turns heartbreaking and funny, it is ultimately the inspirational story of a woman who has found a hard-won place of strength and peace. (less)

One of my favorite parts of the book was her telling of being at an event with Brooke Shields and Oprah Winfrey. The woman on stage asked all women in the audience who had been either physically or sexually abused as a child to raise their hands. First Oprah raised her hand and then Brooke raised her hand. For the first time Rosie shyly raised her hand to publicly acknowledge that she too had been abused as a child. At that point Oprah said to her, “You are a survivor too! Oh Honey you are a survivor!” Rosie broke into tears and Oprah hugged her and allowed her to shed her tears to heal.

This book is amazing and I have even more respect for Rosie Perez than I did previously. She has done so much fundraising for AIDS research and helping people to get treatment. Please read this book if you get the opportunity. This book reads as if Rosie is sitting there just speaking with you. She doesn’t hold back when telling her story. There is bad language in this book so if that offends you you might want to skip this book. This is her story and growing up in the system and in the projects in New York she was surrounded by people using bad language. To tell her story you will have to get the good with the bad.

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