59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2010
Belinda Carlisle's autobiography is one of the most fascinating books I have read in quite some time. I was riveted, shocked and disgusted as I read Carlisle's surprisingly open and honest confession about her life of self loathing and drug and alcohol abuse. I was aware of her debauchery during her days in the Go-Go's, but was completely unaware of her continued substance abuse and self inflicted mental torture during her solo career. I honestly could not put it down and read the entire 250+ pages in one day. If you were/are a Go-Go or Carlisle fan, this is not to be missed. Belinda was always and still is my favorite member of the Go-Go's and I thoroughly enjoyed following her heartbreaking journey from beginning to end. I am amazed and thankful she actually survived to tell the story of her rollecoaster ride of ups and downs she endured during her life and career. It's comforting to know Belinda has at long last found some sort of peace and come to terms with her turbulent and disturbing past.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2010
Memoir and Bio are my favorite literary genres and this is one of the best I have read. I am a huge fan - from the Go-Go's up to her last French CD, "Voilà" - have always followed Belinda. I recently saw her live and she was incredible. The book - it is refreshingly candid and authentic. It flows well and as someone else wrote in an earlier review - brutally honest. The surprising part is how inspirational it is. As disturbing as some parts are, there is redemption and grace in it as well. I found myself very emotional while reading some parts - she expresses herself in such an emotional and raw manner and I really felt as if I were on this journey with her right through to her recovery struggles and coming out the other side into more light and grace. A great read and again, very inspirational, especially for folks from dysfunctional families and struggling with addiction issues - you will feel the hope and inspiration.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2010
I love celebrity biographies, and although Belinda's life makes for a great story, not so much for a book. The main thread is her decades-long drug use, but I was never able to get into her head. By the end of the book all I know is that she used alot of coke. I have no idea how that felt, what the specific consequences were, what exactly is a bender and what her rituals were. I don't know if she snort it or shot it, I dont know if she ever had a bloody nose, I don't how she acted or felt while she was high.... Alot of of flat stories with very little depth or description. Drugs were such a huge part of her life (and the book) I don't understand why as I reader I wasn't brought further into it. Still, it is a breezy read, just not alot of substance.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
I thought she was so real and raw about her drug use. I do question if she can stay sober, I hope she does. She is so talented. its hard to read she was present in the moment for her son . I hope they truly have all moved on from this.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2010
Belinda Carlisle wrote her memoir after five years of sobriety. Lips Unsealed doesn't read like a written memoir and resembles a transcribed interview. Carlisle's story was a burning page-turner for the first half of the book, as she recounts the punk scene in Los Angeles which led to the formation of the Go-Go's.
Carlisle was stoned on cocaine and booze for the first 47 years of her life. Her cocaine addiction was no secret to her fans (I count myself as a strong Go-Go's and Belinda Carlisle fan) who knew of her drug addiction over twenty years ago. What was surprising to discover were the countless times Carlisle fell off the wagon, only to sober up again then fall deeper and deeper into a coked-up Hell. Unfortunately Lips Unsealed suffers in its second half because Carlisle tells the same story over and over again. The last twenty years of her life were about going on tour, sniffing out coke dealers as soon as she was in a new town, then going onstage blasted out of her mind and partying for days afterward. It got pretty tiring to read the same story over and over again.
Belinda must have been sober during the making of the Go-Go's' and her own solo albums, because the accounts of her studio session time and the dynamics that were involved in songwriting and production were extremely interesting. Carlisle's later solo albums did not do well at all in North America, yet they were consistent Top Tens in Europe. I found it very interesting to read about her experiences making these lesser-known albums (such as Live Your Life Be Free and her French-only album, spelled mistakenly without the accent grave, Voila) since the local press all but ignored them.
After having a coked-up epiphany when she realized that if she snorted one more line she would die, Carlisle sobered up through AA and by adopting a healthy lifestyle of exercise and yoga. As far as I'm concerned, after reading her life story, Carlisle seems fragile enough to go off the wagon again any second, yet I will be the first to admit that a former addict is always an addict and will always have these demons looking over her shoulders.
I was glad to read that Belinda and the four other Go-Go's, Charlotte Caffey, Jane Wiedlin, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine long ago built bridges, forgave each other and put all their bickering behind them. They certainly took a proactive role in the inevitable post-breakup record company reissue of hits packages. Instead of letting the record company release these compilations on its own, they decided to reform, give all their input, and tour to promote these new albums.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2012
I am always shocked at just how self-absorbed and downright selfish celebrities can be. It seems many of them are born that way. The damage they inflict while they chase success and self discovery can be massive, yet they trudge onward as if they owe it to society to be famous and grace us with their brilliance. Belinda went from decades of selfish junkie to becoming a selfish inner searching yoga desciple. While she does acknowledge the pain she caused, this book became a tedious journey at about the 50% mark. I kept reading because I paid for it, and because I was hoping it would end well. Boring, predictable, shocking at times. Not worth the price. Sad, I used to really like Belinda, before I knew too much about her.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
When I saw this book, I thought it was a "must-read" for me. The Go-Gos' music musically documented a period of my generation, just like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" did visually. Similar to Robert Plant or Mick Jagger, Belinda Carlisle easily commanded attention as a gregarious vocalist of a popular music group ... and over the years, the tabloid stories and a surprise "Playboy" picture spread generated obvious clues that she had a story to tell. Initially, I found the book unfulfilling and viewed it as just another celebrity who "had it all", only to blow it. But, weeks later, Carlisle's autobiography stills clings to my memory and it becomes clear that her story is not so much unique as it is memorable.
First and foremost, I admire Belinda Carlisle for her courage in revealing the painful reality of her life in such an open and raw manner. She starts her memoir by detailing a troubled childhood that is told in a manner that easily generates empathy and sympathy. The image Carlisle presents as a young girl is both heart wrenching and powerful enough to stick with the reader through the entire book. It becomes difficult not to conclude that her early life experience factored heavily into the difficulties she experiences throughout her life. This portion of the memoir is delivered with much more clarity than the remainder of the book in my opinion.
In traditional pop/rock music fashion, Carlisle escapes the misery of home by seeking refuge in a variety of punk music clubs and on a drunken whim, decides with a gaggle of friends to form a band. Although it is interesting to discover that the Go-Go's were formed in such a hasty manner, I felt that this juncture of Carlisle's life was glossed-over as the band seemed to morph very quickly from a group of untrained drunks with a dream ... to suddenly recording an album. Being the primary reason for her fame, I was hoping Carlisle would divulge a little more detail on the band's beginnings. It is at this point, the alcohol and drugs take control of the memoir's content, the details become more convoluted and parts of the storyline become slightly difficult to follow in a chronological manner. One moment the focus is on a show at Los Angeles club and next, the group is recording, then in London only to be back in Los Angeles again ... the transition between events was occasionally abrupt. Apart from the nomadic nature of her life, Carlisle effectively illustrates her personal road of self-destruction, paved with a lethal cocktail of chemicals and low self-esteem.
Most of the book is a rollercoaster ride of making music and getting high. Although, music is what defines her, you never get a sense that her music career was a true source of happiness, even when she claims it to be. What is fully displayed, however, is the misery and frustration of her addiction, reinforced by a detailed stream of relapses. It's the drugs, not the music, the gets top billing in Carlisle's life story.
The rocky road that was (is) Belinda Carlisle's life is not really shocking ... it is depressing. She succeeds in creating a sense of despair throughout her memoir and it is, at times, difficult to read about. Although, in the end, she writes of finding true happiness, it is hard to believe, as the more recent pictures of her in the book seem to reveal underlying pain. It is hard not to be a fan of Belinda Carlisle after reading her story.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2010
Belinda Carlisle's days with The Go Go's (the first 1/3 of the book) are a really entertaining read...their party days on the Sunset Strip are an eye-opener, as is an anecdote about going to clubs with a little vial of blood to pour into an unsuspecting stranger's drink (yech!!). She was a wild child in the late 70s, that's for sure.
However...the party days (and the book) become less fun as they continue. When cocaine use gives way to insane addiction, and her unflattering self-image exacerbates her depression, Carlisle refuses to link the two, and refuses to confront her issues. This goes on, seemingly forever. Her honesty in the book is commendable, but spending the last 2/3 of the book with this heavy, dark cloud hanging over it is as frustrating as trying to reason with an addict. You want her to pull through, and eventually, of course, she does.
Despite her honesty on the subject of drugs, some of the information (the sex, for one) has been completely glossed over, likely to spare the embarrassment of her husband and child. But she was a Go Go, and there's no way she forewent-went all those years while she was abusing drugs and hanging out in clubs. The culpability of the other Go Gos is also absent here...out of respect for Jane, Kathy, Charlotte and Gina, I guess, she does not veer terribly far into their tantrums or drug use and sticks mainly to her own.
The music is largely not described, which makes sense to some degree, since Carlisle wrote only a bit of it and played instruments on none of it. It's interesting to ponder that with Carlisle's solo career, she *was* the product being sold more so than the songs.
Collaborations with Bangles Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs are barely given any text...and her stint on "Dancing With The Stars" is given one paragraph (and her dance partner, Jonathan, is not even mentioned). But she does give some space to collaborations with Brian Wilson and George Harrison.
So is it an interesting read? For the most part, it really is. But I can't give this book five stars or even four. For all of her new resolve, Carlisle's book contains a fair amount of wallowing and, yeah, whining. As an honest portrayal of her life, it's probably pretty dead-on...but as an entertainment, or a tale of inspiration full of insights and answers, it unfortunately falls a little flat.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2010
I'd always loved the Go-Go's - all of them. There always seemed to be more to the story of that band than everyone was telling, even in VH-1 "Behind The Music" episode. And I always thought it was strange that Belinda was poised for superstardom at one point in the late 80's and then things just seemed to fizzle out.... Then when the girls started to get back together, nothing seemed to stick there either.
Now we know why. What a crazy, desperate, terrifying story. In a way it's shocking she came out alive..... Usually it's the ones like her that clean up well and are able to hide it that wind up offing themselves no?
This book was a great read, really impossible to put down. I can't help but find it heartbreaking that so much of her life was lost to this terrible struggle with agonizing addictions. Classic story where she seems to have it all and in reality she's totally miserable. Super sad.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2010
I must admit that this book was much, much better than I had anticipated. I expected a trashy, gossipy, self-indulgent beach read, but instead got a brutally honest, shocking at times, full representation of the power of addiction and the empowerment of recovery. Carlisle laid it all out on the table, and I mean all of it. I cannot image that there was anything more sordid, mortifying or openly honest she could possibly have omitted from this very detailed account, considering some of the truly horrific and scary recklessness and acts of self-loathing she includes here. I have seen the Go-Go's in concert many times and had the awesome opportunity to go backstage for a very short meet-n-greet at a Philadelphia gig (Talk Show tour w/INXS). My friends and I usually partied before a concert, but I couldn't that night - I didn't want to be messed up when I met them. Heh-Heh. They all seemed so charming and exuded the exact "cuteness" I had so innocently conjured of them. Little did I know of the dressed-up, messed-up, tortured souls they embodied. What an absorbing and satisfying story of her long and painful struggle to recovery and eventual inner peace by honest self-awareness and dedicated sobriety! Highly recommended.