Book Review: Around the Way Girl: A Memoir by Taraji P. Henson

Posted April 6, 2017 by @Angelized_1st in Books, Entertainment / 0 Comments

Book Review: Around the Way Girl: A Memoir by Taraji P. HensonAround the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson
Published by Simon and Schuster on October 11th 2016
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Entertainment & Performing Arts, Women
Pages: 256
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

From Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe winner, and star of the new motion picture Hidden Figures, Taraji P. Henson, comes an inspiring and funny book about family, friends, the hustle required to make it from DC to Hollywood, and the joy of living in your own truth.

With a sensibility that recalls her beloved screen characters, including NASA physicist mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, Yvette, Queenie, Shug, and the iconic Cookie from Empire, yet is all Taraji, the screen actress writes of her family, the one she was born into and the one she created. She shares stories of her father, a Vietnam vet who was bowed but never broken by life's challenges, and of her mother who survived violence both in the home and on DC's volatile streets. Here too she opens up about her experiences as a single mother, a journey some saw as a burden but which she saw as a gift.

Around the Way Girl is also a classic actor’s memoir in which Taraji reflects on the world-class instruction she received at Howard University and the pitfalls that come with being a black actress. With laugh-out-loud humor and candor, she shares the challenges and disappointments of the actor’s journey and shows us that behind the red carpet moments, she is ever authentic. She is at heart just a girl in pursuit of her dreams.

March’s book selection of the month for Mocha Girls Read was a memoir by a woman. It could have been any woman, from any background, or walk of life. After voting on the nominated selections, it was decided that we’d read Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson. This memoir reveals how the Academy Award nominee made it from a little girl growing up in Southeastern D. C. to Hollywood. Readers get a glimpse at her tough childhood, first loves, and what life was like for her when she decided to pursue her dreams. Funny, touching, and at times, heart-breaking.

I don’t usually read memoirs, but I enjoyed this one. The conversational style in which it was written made me feel as if I was having a conversation with Ms. Henson. Though some of the things she’s gone through in her life are outside my purview, I could still relate to her story. Like most memoirs, this one begins at the beginning and gives readers some insight into her upbringing. I enjoyed reading about Ms. Henson’s relationship with her parents, especially her father, and how her parents nurtured her interest in entertaining and the arts. I also enjoyed the stories of her college years, her early careers, and how she gave it all up to head to Los Angeles to become a full-time actor.

While I enjoyed the various stories within this memoir, I wasn’t really a fan of how the story jumped around. When I’d become invested in a particular story, the story would veer off into a tangent. Eventually, it would make its way back around to the story, but that form of writing often left me confused and feeling as if I missed something important. If you can get passed the erratic writing style, then the book becomes very interesting.

As I’ve stated, I’m not a memoir reader, so it’s hard for me to judge whether or not this one would interest others. I will say that if you are a fan of Taraji P. Henson as an actress and entertainer, then you’ll definitely enjoy reading her memoir. If not, then you might as well pass this one by. Though Ms. Henson does give a few tales from her life in Hollywood, you won’t find heaps of dirt about her co-stars. This is not that kind of book. Instead, readers get a glimpse of what a working actor goes through, and how difficult it can be for a woman of color to make it in the industry.

About Taraji P. Henson

Taraji Henson is an American film and television actress. She is best known as Cookie Lyon on the Fox drama series Empire for which she won a Critics’ Choice Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Emmy Award. In 2008 she received an Academy Award nomination for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Henson is also a singer and provided the vocals for the Three 6 Mafia track “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”. The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006.

Henson is a graduate of Howard University where she studied drama, a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and is the single mother of a grown son.


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