Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I confess, I picked up Portia de Rossi’s memoir, Unbearable Lightness, for the title. The blurbs on the back were by some of my favorite authors, a plus. A quick scan of the inside jacket was enough to convince me to give it a try (I don’t like to read the whole blurb because I don’t want to know the ending).

I’m not big into television or celebrity goings-on, so it wasn’t until the last 50 pages of the book that I realized (don’t laugh), that’s where I know Portia from!

Which, for me, made the book that much better.

Portia tells her story in meticulous detail, without any judgment or self-pity. With gut-wrenching honesty, she is able to say: This is who I was. This is who I am. These are the things that make me, me. I am defined only by myself.

Her approach to her life is bold and fierce, but in writing about it, she is gentle. She writes simply and honestly about the people, things and experiences that make her who she is. Her journey is about gaining the ability and the strength to face her vulnerabilities.

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The focus of her memoir is her eating disorder. She fidgets naked on her scale, stands naked in front of the mirror, runs naked on her treadmill, and in this memoir, strips her soul naked in front of all of us. This nakedness is a brutal slap in the face— her 82-pound body is truly unbearably light because it is too fragile to contain her heaviness.

Have you ever felt heaviness about your identity? Being insecure? Homesickness? Losing a parent? Overcoming the first step? Your sexuality? Fear of judgment? Learning to forgive? Heartbreak? Addiction?

Not knowing who you are? Being afraid to admit to yourself who you are?

I’m not going to give away what happens, but I wholeheartedly recommend this memoir to anyone trying to find oneself, or trying to find the courage to be oneself.

I hope that is all of us.

About the Author

Abby Sidener

Abby Sidener is a full-time Library Sub at the Kansas City Public Library and a public transportation advocate. When she's not helping out patrons at the Library or devouring poetry and short stories, she can often be found handing out books on the Kansas City Metro bus system as a participant in the Mid-America Regional Council's Green Commute Challenge.