In the summer of 1974, a 14-year-old girl in Dolton, Illinois, had a dream. A dream to become an actress, like her idols Ron Howard and Vicki Lawrence. But it was a long way from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, and it didn’t help that she’d recently dropped out of the school play, The Ugly Duckling, or that the Hollywood casting directors she wrote to replied that "professional training was a requirement".
But the funny thing is, it all came true. Through a series of happy accidents, Jane Lynch created an improbable—and hilarious—path to success. In those early years, despite her dreams, she was also consumed with anxiety, feeling out of place in both her body and her family. To deal with her worries about her sexuality, she escaped in positive ways—such as joining a high-school chorus not unlike the one in Glee—but also found destructive outlets. She started drinking almost every night during her freshman year of high school and developed a mean and judgmental streak that turned her into a real-life Sue Sylvester.
Then, at 31, she started to get her life together. She was finally able to embrace her sexuality, come out to her parents, and quit drinking for good. Soon after, a Frosted Flakes commercial and a chance meeting in a coffee shop led to a role in the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show, which helped her to get cast in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Similar coincidences and chance meetings led to roles in movies starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and even Meryl Streep in 2009's Julie & Julia.
Then, of course, came the two lucky accidents that truly changed her life. Getting lost in a hotel led to an introduction to her future wife, Lara. And then a series she’d signed up for abruptly got canceled, making it possible for her to take the role of Sue Sylvester in Glee, which made her a megastar. Today, Jane Lynch has finally found the contentment she thought she’d never have.
Part comic memoir and part inspirational narrative, this is a book equally for the rabid Glee fan and for anyone who needs a new perspective on life, love, and success.
Read by the author, with a foreword written and read by Carol Burnett.
"A triumphant memoir recounting the inner struggles of one of the most versatile actresses working today…Achingly sad and sweetly comic at the same time." (Kirkus)
"[A] frank, engaging, and at times uproariously funny autobiography of a roller-coaster life." (Vogue)
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I give this book five stars because it delivers as promised and the fact that I didn’t like it is rather a reflection of my poor choice in having selected the book (it was on sale) than the quality of the author’s work. Celebrity lives just aren’t all that interesting and even the most talented actors do not necessarily (or likely) have the literary skills to write compelling stories about themselves. After having read some other celebrity memoirs - “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” (Rob Lowe), “The Elephant to Hollywood” (Michael Caine) - I shouldn’t be surprised that this book fell flat for me. “Happy Accidents” follows the predictable formula of many in this genre: the misfit/defiant childhood, insecure adolescence, years as a struggling actor, first break, climb to greatness, and all the wonderful people who helped along the way. If you’re a huge fan of Jane Lynch and have seen most of her work, you’ll probably appreciate her book. If you’re looking for a good piece of literature with novel insights, then you may want to pass on this one.
Worth a listen, if you like Jane Lynch
I enjoyed it overall, although Jane Lynch's life hasn't really been dramatic or traumatic enough to put this at the level of tell-all Hollywood bio, and she doesn't dish about other stars much, either.
All that's undoubtedly to her credit, but it doesn't exactly make for a page-turner. Still, if you like her work in Glee or anything else she's done, it's a pleasant listen. Not up to the humor in Tina Fey's Bossypants, but interesting enough for listening while driving or walking.
I'm not sure she could have changed it. It was honest, or at least, honest enough.
Her struggles with coming out were probably the most interesting parts of the book.
Overall, yes, but I'm a fan of her work.