Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

A Little Bit WickedA Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know next to nothing about Kristin Chenoweth. I've seen the episode of Glee she guest starred in, but I didn't have cable while Pushing Daisies was on the air, and I've never had the disposable income for a trip to NYC for a Broadway show. Nonetheless, I found her memoir funny, enlightening, and overall enjoyable.

Kristin Chenoweth is deeply spiritual, and she makes no secret of that fact from the first paragraphs of her memoir. Initially, her singing brought her to several Oklahoma churches to show off her talent. She also references her grandmother, who advocated against using religion to judge, and befriended people across religious lines. Chenoweth says little about religion or spirituality I can argue with, though I don't feel her fervor. Hers is the gentle, loving, accepting religion that's a lot more palatable than the evangelical type.

The story is told through vignettes about her current life (as of the book's publication, at least), which spark flashbacks or long stories about how she got where she is now. The narrative jumps around in time, but still manages to paint a whole picture of how she got where she is. She discusses her struggles with Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder that leaves her nauseated and useless for random periods of time. She mentions only briefly that she struggled with depression, though it doesn't show in her narrative. Mostly, the story seems like one charmed-life anecdote after another. Her coming in third in a Miss America beauty pageant, after all, leads to a lucrative offer to attend a prestigious singing school free and clear, which allows her to stumble into her Broadway career.

It's possible I'm too cynical for this book. It seemed easy to espouse her philosophies of "keep on keepin' on" and regarding everything cheerfully and being kind to people when you've led this sort of life. She describes her parents as not being well-off, but she certainly has a lot more opportunities than a lot of the people I grew up with. It probably helps that she knew what she wanted from day one, and that she had the luxury of choosing only what was fun to her.

Despite the sometimes saccharine outlook of the book, though, I enjoyed it. It's frequently funny, sometimes wry, and I found myself liking her by the end. She never uses her platform to tear anyone down, and she comes across as very down-to-earth, and deserving of her success.

I listened to this book on audio, which is narrated by Kristin Chenoweth. She sometimes bursts into song, and punctuates with laughter. She has a lovely voice, and I think there would be a dimension missing to read this on the page instead of hearing it. I was lucky enough to find it through my local library, and it was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary week.

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