From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—This world-renowned pianist was born to parents whose lives and aspirations were interrupted by China's Cultural Revolution. Like his entire generation, he was an only child due to his country's population-control policy. This created a kind of perfect storm. In some families, every ambition parents had for their own lives was visited upon their offspring. That was the case with Lang Lang, whose creative and musical parents were delighted when their son showed great interest and talent for piano at an early age. While this is the story of his life, it is also the story of a family's struggle to balance ambition, expectations, and relationships, and it illustrates to the extreme the pressure many young people face to live up to their own and their parents' expectations. The writing is immediate and emotional, drawing readers into a life of hard work, dedication, music, competition, and performance. Lang Lang's life and creative choices demonstrate a willingness to take chances and trust his instincts, honed through years of battling insular established systems.—Charlotte Bradshaw, San Mateo County Library, CA
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Smith spent much of a tumultuous life in one glamorous endeavor, filmmaking, wishing he were in another, writing. How he evolved from thrill-seeking, drug- and alcohol-besotted low man on the Hollywood totem pole to sober, insightful writer is the subject of this moving, gently written memoir made up of 12 loosely connected personal essays, in which he touches on such diverse topics as love of skydiving, ambivalence about his family, and struggling repeatedly with chemical addiction. As the book’s title implies, Smith also spends a lot of time discussing the film industry—how he found work in it, whom he met, the niche he occupied, what a key grip does (rigs lights, prepares dolly shots, does last-minute construction), and why he stayed in the field despite long hours, grueling pace, and exploitative producers. Altogether, a wise, intensely readable autobiography that should please those who enjoy reading about transformation-filled life journeys and those who like a spoonful of gossip to make the life lessons go down. --Jack Helbig
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