Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Women I was Born to be - Book Review


The Women I was Born to Be - My Story
By Susan Boyle
Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) 2010

Hands up anyone who has NEVER heard of Susan Boyle. Of course you have. She's the woman from Scotland who came out of nowhere to superstardom in April 2009 after just one audition on the TV show Britain's Got Talent.

If you haven't heard her sing or you want to hear her again - listen to her audition.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8P9d0zGZl4

In January 2009 (2 years ago) Susan Boyle was an unemployed mentally challenged unmarried woman, in her 40s, living in the village of Blackburn just outside of Edinburgh in Scotland. Susan was the youngest of 9 children from a Roman Catholic family - her 8 older siblings are anywhere from 3 to 15 years older than her.

Susan had been deprived of oxygen for a short time at birth (she was born in 1961) and this had left her slightly brain damaged. She was relentlessly bullied in school and had difficulty passing exams. But she had always loved music and loved to sing. And as the youngest of the family Susan admits that she was a little spoiled by her parents.

Susan grew up singing in church choirs, and smoky pubs. She also loved listening to music on the radio and when the TV came long, she would watch the music show Top of the Pops - a long time weekly music show that did the top 10 countdown with the artists every week. Susan's most favourite music singer as a child was Donny Osmond. They both had similar backgrounds - they both came from large religious families where music was a big part of their lives.

Susan's father died in 1999. One of Susan's older sisters also unexpectedly died not long after, which devastated the family. Susan and her mother loved watching the reality shows and the music shows on TV. Susan's mother began encouraging Susan to think about auditioning for one of these shows. After her mothers death, Susan decided that the time was right to do something so she applied to audition.

In January of 2009 Susan appeard on a stage in Glasgow in front of Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan and sang. She and the audience were sworn to silence as she was invited back to the live semi-finals to be held after the auditions had aired on TV.

On April 11, 2009 Susan's audition was aired on TV in Britain. Of course Susan watched it - along with her family and friends. That night the neighbours came banging on her doorstep asking for her autograph. The next morning her telephone started ringing and never stopped. When Susan called the TV show producers and asked what was going on, she was told, "oh your audition is on youtube, its gone viral." Susan did not have a computer and had no idea what you tube was.

This book is Susans memoir of her life and of the first 18 months after she was "discovered."

I found it very readable except for 2 small issues - but these are just my own personal issues about Susan, and have nothing to do with the book itself.

Susan's roman catholic faith is a big part of her life so she often refers to praying in church to help her cope with the stresses of life. She also writes extremely detailed accounts of her meeting with the scottish monsignor (cardinal) and the pope. I am not religious at all so these parts were somewhat boring for me.

The other issue I had was her constant use of the word "wee" meaning small. I know its how scottish people talk - but I feel it was quite overused in this memoir.

But other than that, this is a fascinating account of what it is like to rise from obscurity to stardom literally overnight thanks modern inventions like the internet.

1 comment:

Violette Severin said...

Good review. I have been wondering how good this book is. I think that I will give it a read.