- Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
- Author: Anna Kendrick
- Publisher: Touchstone: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
- Year Published: 2016
- Setting: Mostly Portland, Maine; New York City, New York; Los Angeles, California
- Point of View (POV): First person, autobiographical
- Themes: Family, Identity, Courage, Ambition, Growing Up, Friendship
- My Rating: 10/10
- Favourite Quotes:
- “I resolved to keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” (Kendrick xii)
- “Working with Zac Efron gave me a real-life understanding of how Charlie Manson got all those people to move to a ranch and do his bidding” (Kendrick 168)
- “I gave up on being Nice. I started putting more value on other qualities instead: passion, bravery, intelligence, practicality, humour, patience, fairness, sensitivity” (Kendrick 194)
- “A few surprising revelations: 1. People need escape and fantasy at every age. 2. Maybe we are all most free when we are playing make-believe” (Kendrick 246)
- “If there was just a little more time, or a little more money, or if you could just get through this one last rough patch, it would all be clear, it would all fall into place. It’s an insatiable trap” (Kendrick 259)
*This review DOES NOT contain spoilers!*
Scrappy Little Nobody is a memoir by Anna Kendrick about the first thirty or so years of her life. Anna already loved being on stage – singing, dancing, and acting – by the age of five or six and had her first big role on Broadway at the age of thirteen. At age seventeen, she moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of Portland, Maine. Anna has faced many challenges, from mean girls in school, to not booking any acting jobs in LA, to being an Oscar nominee for Up in the Air and yet still being broke. Despite all of this, Anna’s sarcasm, ambition, and spunk (I can’t use any other word to describe her) helps her get through it all. Now a very well-known and much-loved actress, thanks to movies like Pitch Perfect, Anna reflects on everything in her life that helped to shape her into who she is now. This memoir was funny, relatable, and I really, really loved learning more about the early years and personal life of one of my favourite actresses.
Due to this novel being a memoir, there is no real ‘peak of conflict.’ The book is divided into five parts: “My Double Life,” which describes her childhood and adolescence; “Leaving the Nest,” which describes Anna leaving home to live in Manhattan briefly and her permanent move to LA; “Boys,” which is self-explanatory; “Hollywood,” which is about when she is finally cast in her first few films; and “Scrappy Little Nobody,” which is made up of miscellaneous stories. Each part is broken down into several different moments in Anna’s life and each of these moments has its own conflict. I found each story to be just as engrossing as the previous one, and I loved how it gave the book an episodic feel.
After completing this book, I have developed a very strong emotional attachment to Anna Kendrick. I went from thinking of her as an actress that I really liked and who I thought was funny and talented, to knowing that I will now be going to watch every movie she ever makes. Anna wrote this book very conversationally, making it feel like the words had gone directly from her mouth onto the page. Her personality really came through and I was happy to see that her own distinct voice did not get lost in the editing process. As part of my reading experience, I decided to annotate this book as I read it, meaning that I let myself write in the margins, highlight, and underline as much as I wanted as I read the book. I can’t even count how many times I read something that I related to and scribbled “THIS IS ME!” along the side of the page. For example, there are a few times that Anna talks about her experience as a “very, very small weirdo,” and I cannot even tell you how much I want to put that on a t-shirt and wear it every single day of my life (Kendrick xvii). She goes on, and talks about how “always being the smallest also gave me a specific role in life; it gave me an identity. Lining up by height? Excuse me while I give you a starting point. Gymnastics day in gym class? I’ll prepare myself to be thrown,” and, as a person who barely scrapes by as five feet tall, I don’t think that I have ever related to anything more (Kendrick xix). After reading her memoir, I have decided that I want, no, I need to become best friends with Anna Kendrick.
Throughout her book, Anna lets readers into her head and is very honest about her thoughts and emotions. In a section she calls, “He’s Just Not That Interesting,” Anna talks about a time she had gone through a breakup, saying, “you’re allowed to be a miserable shit for a while after you get dumped . . . Breakups can turn fully dimensional people into stubborn little vessels for your most stubborn little feelings. It takes a while for them to change back” (Kendrick 115). This is one of the many times that I felt like Anna was honest about something that not everyone would have been honest about. I thought memoirs were all about praising the individual it was written about, and I’m sure there are some out there that are like that, but I am very happy that Anna was honest and real when she wrote it. She made it clear that she is an imperfect human being, just like the rest of us.
After doing some research into the memoir genre, I determined that Scrappy Little Nobody can be categorized as a ‘contemporary memoir’ rather than an autobiography or the more traditional style of memoir (written by a powerful person near the end of their life). According to Kirby and Kirby, “during the last twenty years or so, autobiography and the old memoirs have been reborn as literary memoir and transformed into a dynamic and highly readable genre that we term contemporary memoir” (23). Anna Kendrick’s memoir can be categorized this way because of how incredibly relatable her stories are, despite her celebrity status. This kind of narrative, when executed successfully, will “create meaningful moments that connect to a reader’s life experience” (Kirby & Kirby 23). Even in the technicalities, Anna adheres to the contemporary memoir genre effortlessly, using “literary techniques borrowed from modern and postmodern novelists, including using distinguishable first-person voice, posing questions, and often interjecting uncertainties and ruminations into their factual texts” (Kirby & Kirby 22). Overall, I am surprised that this is Anna’s first written work, for it feels like it has been written by an experienced writer. I truly hope that this is not the last time Anna publishes a book, because I have fallen in love with her writing style and with her portrayal of the contemporary memoir genre.
I would recommend Anna Kendrick’s memoir to anyone who is relatively interested in her, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who would identify themselves as a fan of hers. Anna’s personable authorial voice and relatable stories could make just about anyone feel a connection to her, and by the end of the book you feel like you got this special glimpse into another person’s life – her failures and her successes, and how she came to be where she is now. I gave Scrappy Little Nobody a 10 out of 10 because I really don’t think I’d make any changes to this book. I think the way it was written, edited, and put together couldn’t have been done much better than it was. I am thoroughly impressed with my first experience reading a memoir and I can’t wait to see what Anna Kendrick does next.
Hill, Beth. “Checklist for Editors.” The Editor’s Blog, 19 Aug. 2015, E.A. Hill, theeditorsblog.net/2011/06/07/checklist-for-editors. Accessed 3 Sept. 2016.
Kendrick, Anna. Scrappy Little Nobody. Touchstone, 2016.
Kirby, Dawn Latta, and Dan Kirby. “Contemporary Memoir: A 21st-Century Genre Ideal for Teens.” The English Journal, vol. 99, no. 4, 2010, pp. 22-29.