Happy Accidents: Book Review
By Elli Davis, September 16, 2012
When we’re constantly being presented with stories of individuals shooting to instant success seemingly miraculously, it’s easy to start wondering whether there’s any truth to the notion that hard work will get you where you want to go. But that belief will be firmly reinstated once you read Jane Lynch’s autobiography Happy Accidents. Considering her "big break" didn’t come until she became the ruthless nemesis of the high school students in Glee at the age of 50 -- there is no doubt Lynch worked her way to where she is now. Whether it was pushing papers in a New York PR office or being an all-night host on the TV shopping channel -- she wasn't afraid to do whatever she had to in order to accomplish her goals.
One might expect someone so outrageously funny on screen to have always lived a life of pure joy and comedy. But it's understandable that as a six foot tall closeted teenager, Lynch experienced a fair amount of isolation and self-doubt. This makes for the occasional heartbreaking moment in the first few chapters that can cause you to wonder if the rest of the book will be the uplifting experience you hoped for. But don’t worry, Lynch handles the challenging moments of her younger years with hilarious self-deprecation that makes her both humorous and relatable. It's also somewhat reassuring to know that even someone who seems so confident and self-assured once struggled to make sense of herself just as we do.
It would seem that just about anyone can see a little bit of him or herself in Jane Lynch’s long and arduous journey through life. And because of the perspective she has now gained with age on her former self, she isn’t afraid to make fun of herself along the way. As she says of her personality during her early acting career: “Everything everyone did was wrong, and I couldn't let anything go. I was undoubtedly an absolute joy to have around.” Her genius combination of self-acceptance and self-mockery are a joy to behold.
Just like her famous character, Sue Sylvester, Lynch admits to being a woman that was once frequently run by fears, insecurities and self-doubt. And like many individuals in such a situation she lashed out in all sorts of damaging ways. By drinking heavily, treating those who cared about her terribly and throwing herself into her work she continuously succeeded at pushing others away. This damaging behavior is not doubt something most people can identify with.
Lynch walks a beautiful line between relaying cool facts about her work with some of Hollywood’s hottest actors and the struggles she faced to earn that title for herself. Ever wanted to know what it’s like to work with Harrison Ford or Meryl Streep? She shares the scoop! Curious about how famous actors managed to make it to their current status in spite of all the rejection, negative press and lack of funds? She holds nothing back! Lynch doesn’t shy away from sharing some of her most painful moments -- such as caring for her ailing father, overcoming a daily drinking habit she held since high school or finally making the brave step of coming out to her family in her 30s. If you're ever feeling nervous about where it's all going -- don't worry, we promise there's a "happy" ending -- just as the title suggests.
Given the vast quantity of biographies out there today, it can seem overwhelming to weed through them in order to find the right one for you. But where some others can seem preoccupied in establishing a certain image they want to present of themselves to their readers -- Lynch seems singularly focused on doing the opposite. With every chapter she makes it clear she isn’t perfect, she doesn’t have all the answers and success doesn’t come easily. Rather, it is her constant persistence to acknowledge her flaws and seek to improve them that makes her the incredible individual she is today. Her book is brave, insightful and downright humorous. Virtually anyone will be able to see a little bit of himself/herself in the young Lynch searching for validation, understanding, love and success -- and will root for her along the way. And her eagerness to make sense of her dreams may help you achieve a better sense of yourself along the way! Order a copy at chapters.indigo.ca for $19.13. It isn't too long or heavy a read which makes it perfect for some light weekend reading or your daily commute.