I think Ellen’s comments in the epilogue sum up the book nicely, “But you have to tell them you’re NOT crazy anymore!” (I paraphrase, and I already returned this to the library). Unbearable Lightness chronicles Portia de Rossi’s journey from a childhood/adolescence of disordered eating into anorexia, while tying in her career and struggles with her sexuality. Yet it feels like she tried to fit too much into the 300 pages, while managing to make the majority of the content repetitive and unengaging. But instead of just slamming it, I’ll group it up into what I liked and didn’t.

What I liked:
– The book gave a great insight into the world the film and TV industry. I don’t think one could conclusively say that everyone in the industry would be drawn down a similar path to Portia, but it’s definitely clear that her environment only encouraged the feelings and habits that her mother had taught her.
– de Rossi is incredibly detailed in her description of her eating disorder. She is able to write so clearly about it, with the hindsight of being on the other side of understanding her issues with food and weight (I wouldn’t necessarily say on the other side of recovery), which conveys to the reader the sense of empowerment she felt, coupled with the deeply buried pain and rejection.

What frustrated me:
– Out of 300 pages, I would say more than 250 are dedicated to de Rossi’s sickness. When she describes admitting her to illness,  she ends up in a binging/purging cycle, resulting in drastic weight gain. And there she ends the bulk of the novel.

The epilogue is beautiful, creating a picture of her new life with Ellen DeGeneres – who loves her and accepts her for who she is not her appearance. But the reader is left out of the vital recovery phase, and in fact wonders if there was a recovery at all.

Overall, I just don’t understand how de Rossi, who gave us insight into the most vulnerable and dark times in her life, would hold back on the time that brought her out of that darkness.

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