I’m not usually one for celebrity autobiographies. I think Anjelica Huston’s memoir was the first I actually read (that I can remember), and I only read that because I love Huston’s work, and the book seemed down to earth and non-sensationalist, which it was. It was a journey through a life. I decided to read Drew Barrymore’s book Wildflower because I have always liked her as an actress, and find her to be an interesting person. Also, when I read about the book it didn’t seem like a straightforward life story, more like snippets and anecdotes. I am happy to say that is largely true.
I liked a lot of things about Wildflower, but one of the major things is the structure and tone. It is not a chronological story, but more eclectic. This feels more like the natural way that memory works, and avoids a list-like description of ‘this happened, and then this…’. The stories this book tells are of different lengths and different levels of significance, but they are all about life – they are defining moments or experiences that have made an impression and are memories that stand out for Drew Barrymore, for one reason or another. She does not ‘tell all’, but shares stories and lessons she has learned. But it isn’t preachy, or her trying to give advice. It is just what she has learned, and what is important, and what matters in life. There is a lot about family, and the difference it can make to our lives. I found her discussion of parent/child relationships very interesting, with stories from both perspectives rounding out the experience. Drew Barrymore had very non-traditional parents and a very non-traditional upbringing, and you can see the impact this has made on her as she navigates her other relationships and later creates her own family. It is very sweet and heartwarming to hear her desire for stability and love, and how much she cherishes family and understands the importance of it, whether it’s good or bad.
As I said this isn’t a ‘tell all’, so while Barrymore does talk about the wilder aspects of her childhood, she makes the correct assumption that anyone reading her book probably already knows the outline of the story, and therefore doesn’t necessarily need all the nitty-gritty. She does speak about her emancipation from her parents at age fourteen, which I found amazing, as she has to tackle renting a flat and getting a job at such a young age. It sounds terrifying, but exciting. I couldn’t imagine dealing with all that at fourteen! She is very brave and determined, and I really admire this.
The tone of the book is very positive and hopeful, and although sometimes Barrymore’s style of writing can get a bit cute and chirpy (there are a lot of exclamation marks), I actually liked this because it felt like her real voice, and the way she would naturally talk and write. She isn’t a ‘writer’, so you don’t expect the writing to be perfect. Instead it is engaging, entertaining, and interesting. Drew Barrymore is a good storyteller.
I really enjoyed Wildflower. It was a nice break from my usual serious/literary stuff, and I loved that the book doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is – just like Drew Barrymore. And I love the cover!
Published in 2015 by Virgin Books (part of Ebury and PRH).
Purchase from Foyles here.
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[…] As a rule, I love memoir and I love Seth Rogen. As soon as I heard that he was writing a book of essays, in 2020 I think, I knew that I just had to read it. It’s easy to dismiss a “movie star memoir” as fluff, to not take it seriously, and I’m sure that is sometimes to case; but not here. I find Seth Rogen to be kind of fascinating and very likeable and engaging. He has had a very specific life and experiences, and this part of why I wanted to read Yearbook – I love memoirs written by people with unusual and interesting lives, especially if I like or admire them in the present and I want to know more about how they came to be who they are. This was the case for the other “celebrity” memoirs I have read, by Angelica Huston and Drew Barrymore. […]