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BRAVE Hardcover – January 30, 2018
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
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“Frank and bold, this memoir is a resounding wakeup call to the entertainment industry and to society as a whole.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
From the Back Cover
Rose McGowan was born in one cult and came of age in another, more visible cult: Hollywood.
Rose escaped the Children of God as a child, moved to the States, and then ran away at thirteen. She lived a transient punk lifestyle on and off the streets until she was “discovered” in Los Angeles and overnight became one of Hollywood’s most desired actresses.
In a strange world where she was contin-ually on display, stardom soon became a personal nightmare of constant exposure and sexualization. Rose escaped into the world of her mind, something she had done as a child, and into high-profile relationships. Every detail of her personal life became public, and the realities of an inherently sexist industry emerged with each script, role, public appear-
ance, and magazine cover. The Hollywood machine packaged her as a sexualized bombshell, hijacking her image and identity and marketing them for profit.
Hollywood expected Rose to be silent and cooperative and to stay the path. Instead, she rebelled and asserted her true identity and voice. She reemerged unscripted, courageous, victorious, angry, smart, fierce, unapologetic, controversial, and real as f*ck.
BRAVE is her raw, honest, and poignant memoir/manifesto—a no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches account of the rise of a millennial icon, fearless activist, and unstoppable force for change who is determined to expose the truth about the entertainment industry, dismantle the concept of fame, shine a light on a multibillion-dollar business built on systemic misogyny, and empower people everywhere to wake up and be BRAVE.
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This is not a usual book. It is highly unusual, and written in a very unusual way. I gave this book five stars because I think it is important and succeeds in a creative, raw, authentic, and real way. I think that any person who actually reads the book will be moved. The author's style is very emotional, and she writes using lots of anger and crude (but appropriately crude) language in response to what has happened to her. I would encourage any thoughtful person to not dismiss this book because of ignorant (they haven't read the book) comments others have made.
In her style of writing, the author often addresses the reader as "you"; it is a deeply personal book, written directly to the reader, and intended to rouse the reader to action, to encourage them to be brave in their own life. It is a vibrant call to action for both women and men.
The author typically was not listened to, not taken seriously, not respected. For those of us who are female, this may be very familiar to us. She describes how our culture programs us to be pleasant, polite, docile, easily manipulated, and vulnerable to predators--I certainly could relate.
She had a very difficult young life. She was raised in Italy in the Children of God cult. After describing what she went through--some incredibly horrible things--she compares this religious cult to the "cult of Hollywood". It's easy to see the parallels. It causes the reader to thing about how we support Hollywood in unhelpful ways and urges us to be supportive of roles and movies who portray women in ways that are not exploitative. I agree with one reviewer who said that she found "unexpected depth" to this book. I related to so much of what the author wrote and also to the blunt and graphic way she said it.
The author does not name her abusers, although their names are easy to figure out with some familiarity with her story. I think that not naming them is powerful and appropriate. She calls one of her primary abusers "The Monster", which describes his actions well; now all of us know more about who he is and what he did. He has been called to accountability for his actions, so some justice has been done there. Reading the actual description of her assault helps the reader to understand how many people have to be complicit in order for someone like that to operate in a predatory way for years and years. The author calls out those people, encouraging everyone who is complicit in abuse to stop looking the other way in order to benefit personally from the abuser's power and money.
The author was homeless many times, including in the Pacific Northwest after she moved from Italy, and spent many of her teenage years wet and hungry. I live in the PNW and have shelter and a car and food and can only imagine how years of living in the cold rain like this affects a young person. Her father had bipolar illness and she captures the effects this had on her throughout her life so well. One of her kindest boyfriends was murdered. She has a lot of insight into what it felt like to go through so many varied experiences; for those of us who also have been there, these insights will be familiar and poignant. For those of us who have not been there, these insights will be enlightening.
The descriptions of sexual assault and abuse are graphic but not inappropriate. I think our stories need to be told and that it is important for women to speak out about what happened to them. I do think that many, many people will try to silence what this author is saying by name-calling and shaming her. Some people want things to stay the same and for women to stay in their traditional place in this country, which is subservient to men, and they blame women when they are sexually assaulted; they will be understandably angry at this book. Several reviewers have tried to shame the author for being mentally ill and to then diagnose her; they don't understand that shaming people who are mentally ill is no longer okay in our culture and that mentally ill people have a voice as well. If they'd read the book they would have found out that the author admits to being cyclothymic and that she is in treatment for this. People who have a mental illness deserve to write books and be heard as much as anyone else. Seriously, these reviewers should be ashamed of themselves but do not know how to do this, probably.
This book is a justifiably angry one. That doesn't mean it should be avoided. It is now okay for women to be angry when things like this happen to them--and they deserve to be heard. Don't let the haters--the shamers---keep you from reading a UNIQUE VOICE that deserves to be heard; it is beautiful and raw and angry--raging at times--but when the reader listens, they will learn so much.
Ms. McGowan has seen through the traps-- the religious cult of her childhood years and later the cult of Hollywood's manipulation and abuse of women. So often the young women so eager to work in show business are used and abused by powerful men who insist on imposing their own desires and perverse needs on the vulnerable young woman.
And so this book is the very interesting story of survival and growth into, finally, a space in the world where she can be herself, can feel safe, and can now help others find their own way to freedom, too. The book is something unusual and special as is Ms. McGowan herself. Her suggestions to the reader for how to escape from slavery to others and breaking through to true freedom and self-respect are very workable and very worthwhile. Buy the book. Buy another copy and give it to someone who suffers. There is life after entrapment and abuse and it can be so very worthwhile -- kind of like winning the lottery of life.
This book made me happy. For her, yes, but also for myself. She beautifully reinforces what I have long known-- If it's to be it's up to me.
Brave is Rose's way of saying: My life is MINE---the Hollywood mind-control machine does NOT get to have it, in whole or in part, anymore. And it's an invitation for the reader to do the same.
On Page 159, Rose talks about how society reacts to a physically wounded woman: They ignore her. And I know this happens. I remember being in an accident that rendered me physically bloody in NYC. I remember just standing and shaking and PTSD-ing while hundreds of automaton-people hurriedly walked passed (got to clock in for the machine!) me UNTIL ONE woman asked me if I was ok. She made a difference for me, and I think about her to this day.
Rose, in her interviews for this book, often talks about advancing society by just 10%. Maybe it's only 10% OF SOCIETY that is necessary for this advancement. Maybe it's NOT the masses of people who will likely NOT be reached by Rose's book, BUT just the 10% of people, just like that ONE woman who asked me if I was ok, and just like the ONE Rose McGowan. Most people are too busy with doing whatever is easiest to be better.
I like how Rose treats the media---ONLY giving respect to those interviewers who she feels respected by, and giving the naked-dress-finger to everyone else.
THANK YOU from one Rose to another.