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BOOK REVIEW:

Scrappy little nobody

Call Number: 
812.092 K333

Scrappy Little Nobody is the writing debut of actress Anna Kendrick. Using a series of autobiographical stories Kendrick weaves an engaging and hilarious narrative of lessons learned and wisdom into a funny, honest book about a misfit navigating through life.

Kendrick has been a working actress since she was a child and is best known for the 2012 film, Pitch Perfect. She scored a Tony nomination before she entered her teens, and earned her first Oscar nomination by the age of 25. In spite of these accomplishments, the book makes it obvious that Kendrick has always felt like an outsider who works in a business that takes itself a little too seriously.

This isn’t a traditional autobiography since Kendrick is barely out of her twenties and has no salacious stories to shock readers. Instead, the book is an assemblage of candid confessionals and self-analysis on topics like fear, embarrassment, sex, romance, work, hero worship, living in LA, award shows, death and growing up. While Kendrick seems to have a handle on her own identity, she admits that she struggles with insecurities, and being in a business that seems to amplify an individual’s neuroses doesn’t help. The book is her way of confronting those insecurities, and sharing how she manages to keep her composure when the world seems to be undermining her.

Readers are likely to notice that she refrains from talking at length about some of the more high-profile projects that she was involved with, and in fact they seem almost inconsequential to the narrative. Kendrick recognizes the incredibly talented people involved in the entertainment profession (as well as her great fortune to be a working actress), but she is wary of the artificial nature of show business and maintains a deft balance when writing about it. She discusses her film debut inCamp (2003) with great affection, but discussion of Pitch Perfect is minimal. She does single out the Twilight films, to insist that she really did appear in them (media attention was resolutely fixated on the leads), and to share the fact that the films got her through some very lean times. She also shares that while the cast was sequestered at a large isolated hotel in wintry Canada, she rather shortsightedly packed a paperback copy of Stephen King’s The Shining to keep occupied in her downtime. In fact, discussion of her film career is tied more to lessons learned and misanthropic personal observations while on a set, rather than a production history.

Indirectly, the book allows readers to understand the unusual responsibilities placed on a child performer. When Kendrick was cast in the Broadway musical High Society, she was elated to  perform in a well-received project, but reveals that she was also under a tremendous amount of pressure, particularly for a twelve-year-old. She and her father packed up and left their home in Maine and relocated to a small Manhattan apartment where Kendrick inadvertently became the breadwinner. Before the production closed, she was in desperate need of a reprieve but held off until she was given the ‘go-ahead’ by producers. She spent her time off swimming in a pool at a hotel and napping. Ultimately, the experience would result in a finely tuned work ethic that was rewarded with a Tony Award nomination at the age of twelve. That same work ethic has since allowed Kendrick to maintain patience in the face of prospects that seem intent on testing her resolve.

Scrappy Little Nobody is wickedly funny, acerbic, witty, self-deprecating and honest but never saccharine. Kendrick can be acidic and she is often relentless with dark humor, but she is never mean and maintains an honesty that is refreshing and relatable.

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