Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair)

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair)

4.7 29
by Rosie Perez
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez’s never-before-told story of surviving a harrowing childhood and of how she found success—both in and out of the Hollywood limelight.
 
Rosie Perez first caught our attention with her fierce dance in the title sequence of Do the Right Thing and has since defined herself as a funny and

…  See more details below

Overview

Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez’s never-before-told story of surviving a harrowing childhood and of how she found success—both in and out of the Hollywood limelight.
 
Rosie Perez first caught our attention with her fierce dance in the title sequence of Do the Right Thing and has since defined herself as a funny and talented actress who broke boundaries for Latinas in the film industry. What most people would be surprised to learn is that the woman with the big, effervescent personality has a secret straight out of a Dickens novel. At the age of three, Rosie’s life was turned upside down when her mentally ill mother tore her away from the only family she knew and placed her in a Catholic children’s home in New York’s Westchester County. Thus began her crazily discombobulated childhood of being shuttled between “the Home,” where she and other kids suffered all manners of cruelty from nuns, and various relatives’ apartments in Brooklyn.
 
Many in her circumstances would have been defined by these harrowing experiences, but with the intense determination that became her trademark, Rosie overcame the odds and made an incredible life for herself. She brings her journey vividly to life on each page of this memoir—from the vibrant streets of Brooklyn to her turbulent years in the Catholic home, and finally to film and TV sets and the LA and New York City hip-hop scenes of the 1980s and ‘90s. 
 
More than a page-turning read, Handbook for an Unpredictable Life is a story of survival. By turns heartbreaking and funny, it is ultimately the inspirational story of a woman who has found a hard-won place of strength and peace.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/31/2014
Rosie Perez, actress, choreographer, and activist known for her roles in films such as Do the Right Thing and White Men Can't Jump, opens up about everything from her difficult upbringing in a home for girls run by nuns to the breaks and trials of fame and silver screen success. Perez's life takes an unexpected turn when, living in L.A. and taking college classes, she is plucked from a crowd of dancers at a club to appear on Soul Train. Soon enough, Spike Lee discovers her at a "butt contest" and she is cast in his breakout film. While die-hard Perez fans may appreciate peaks at the actress' early life, the book otherwise falls flat. Perez speaks from the heart when describing an abusive childhood, but the carefree prose doesn't do the darker material justice. There is very little entertainment tell-all here: we learn that her mother suddenly turned kind after Perez became successful, there was drama with the Fly Girls on In Living Color, and that Jennifer Lopez was, as much as Perez liked her, challenging to work with. Half difficult-childhood tale, half celebrity-memoir, both storylines end up lacking. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-04
A celebrated Puerto Rican actress's memoir about how she found success despite growing up in unstable and often abusive environments. Brooklyn native Perez spent the first three years of her life with her father's sister, a woman she called "Mommie." When her beautiful but schizophrenic birth mother, Lydia, unexpectedly re-entered her life, it was to take her to a Catholic home for children 50 miles outside of New York City. Shocked and confused, Perez knew almost nothing but injustice from that moment forward. The nuns often lacked compassion, and her mother was as neglectful as she was cruel. The only person who genuinely cared for her was her aunt, who struggled for years against both Lydia and the New York court system to get custody of her niece. Perez's ebullience and scrappiness put her at odds with all of her guardians, but they also allowed her to survive her ever-changing cast of sometimes-abusive caretakers. Despite these challenges, the author still managed to reconnect with her father, Ismael, who helped her learn to appreciate her Puerto Rican identity at a crucial time in an otherwise fraught adolescence. Along the way, she discovered a gift for dancing that would eventually get her noticed in a Los Angeles nightclub by Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. She became a respected hip-hop choreographer and then caught the eye of film director Spike Lee, who cast her in his 1989 film Do the Right Thing. Perez ultimately went on to become the poor Brooklyn girl who made good; but in her personal life, she continued to struggle with the searing aftereffects of her difficult life, including PTSD and depression. With refreshing candor and sass, Perez transforms the painful details of her life into an inspiring reminder that even the most unforgiving of personal circumstances can be overcome. A spunky and heartfelt memoir.
From the Publisher
“I read Rosie Perez's magnificent, very real, and heart wrenching book with equal parts joy and horror—horror that the world can and routinely does inflict its terrors on its children, and joy that Rosie made it out to become not only the superior, iconographic artist she is, but the magnificent woman this book reveals her to be. Her voice is the captivating instrument here: forthright, funny, and utterly her own.”—Hilton Als, staff writer, The New Yorker 

“Rosie Perez's Handbook For an Unpredictable Life is a shockingly brave, honest book, filled with so much grace, forgiveness  and humor that you feel invigorated reading it. A deeply moving story, told with unapologetic courage and heart.— George C. Wolfe
 
“Reading this story I was shaking my head in amazement that Rosie is even walking around on the earth, still smiling, let alone creating, contributing and caring about the world.  I know lots of artists who had to persevere and overcome a lot to get where they got and do what they do, but Rosie takes the prize for triumph of a spirit undimmed.  Charles Dickens never dreamed up a more incredible hard-knocks story.—Edward Norton
 
“Rosie Perez has written a brave, hysterical, wise and compulsively readable chronicle of growing up and surviving the dual challenges of a crazy family and crazy life in Hollywood.  Like Running With Scissors before it, Handboook For an Unpredictable Life is ultimately a story of survival and will inspire us all.”—Liz Garbus

“With refreshing candor and sass, Perez transforms the painful details of her life into an inspiring reminder that even the most unforgiving of personal circumstances can be overcome.  A spunky and heartfelt memoir.” —Kirkus

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307952394
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
02/25/2014
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,271,697
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

ROSIE PEREZ is an Oscar-nominated actress, whose credits include Do the Right Thing, White Men Can't Jump, Fearless, and The Counselor. She is the Artistic Chair of Urban Arts Partnership and sits on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This memoir is captivating, gut wrenching and honest.She puts all of her current emotions and thoughts on any particular event , subject or person on the pages of  this book.It's also very obvious that she had under gone some type of therapy to recall her early years! That shows you she put time and effort into this memoir and it's something  I do respect.  Her  She tells her story like you're old friends and draws you completely into her world!  I did enjoy reading this book. Be sure to take breaks because some of instances can exhuast you  as you try to keep up. She's: vulnerable, real, honest,shy, hot headed and funny.
Cycy09 More than 1 year ago
I Didn't Really Know Much About Rosie Perez Before Reading Her Book. All I Knew Was The Basics. I Knew She's An Actress And I Knew She Was The Choreogrpher On In Living Color But Other Then That, That Was It. What Made Me Decide To Get Her Book Was That I Saw Her On An Interview With Angie Martinez For Hot.97 And She Was Talking About Some Of The Subject Matter In Her Book And Some Of The Details. I Became Intrested And Thought I'd Give It A Try. I Have To Say That I Was Pleasently Surprised About How Candid She Was And How Open And Honest A Lot Of Her Stories Was! I think People Should Give Her Book A Try! Especially For All Those Latinos Out Their Who Know Who She Is. What She Goes Through And The Pain She Endures Was Crazy And Heartbreaking, But I Totally Respect Her And I Think She's A Great Role Model And Someone To Look Up To. Hey If She Made It, Anyone Can Make It!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down! Ive fallen in love with Rosie even more. Wow!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let me just start by saying that I hate to read, and I was looking for a book that would captivate me and not put me to sleep, I saw Rosie on Wendy Williams talking about her book and I've always loved her so I decided to get her book, can I just say that I was hooked from the begining to the end. This book book took me an such an emotional rollercoaster good and sad, I'm also from Willamsburg, Brooklyn and remember very vividly alot of the things she described in her book about the neighhoods and just how things were back in the day, I laughed so much and I felt like she was describing so many things that I felt and went thru back in BK myself. As a fellow nuyorican/brooklynite, I'm so proud of her, even though I have never meet her in person as weird as it sounds I've always felt a deep connection to her and now I know way. I want to thank her for always keeping it real and representing BK to the fullest, she really is a survivor, anybody else would have given up on life and she stayed with it and became the great pride of brooklyn that she is today. Much love Roise ;-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Test
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It made me sad, laugh & cry. Must read!
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
Just loved this book, I always liked Rosie Perez but after reading her story I REALLY love and admire her, such courage, the cruelty of the Catholic Nuns broke my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Susiej9496 More than 1 year ago
I haven't finished this book, but the moment I started to read the first few pages I knew I had to purchase it, and it's because I don't feel like I'm reading it but instead I feel as if she's reading it to me. I can't believe that in a catholic home the nuns are so mean? Really it breaks my heart to know that at such a young age she had to go thru all this. I admire you so much Rosie Perez and I'm so proud of how far you have come. I can't wait to get to the part where you start living your dreams babygirl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading about Rosie's life. She came from nothing & worked all of her life to get to where she is today ... she deserves more than 5 stars......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent Read!!!! I love Rosie Perez. This book was raw and uncut! Being a fellow "Boricua" I could relate to alot of things in this book. She didnt hold back on any details and kept it all the way real. I was inspired by her perserverance and strength. The only downside to the book is she didnt go into much detail about her first marriage. Other than that I would definitely reccomend this book. Such a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i couldnt put it down!!! Its beyond an amazing book, had tears in my eyes. She is an amazing person with an even more amazing outcome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! I didn't really know who Rosie Perez was until I saw her on the Wendy Show, and then decided to get the book because I liked her personality. I was captivated from beginning to end!! It takes a lot to draw me into a book, but this one definitely did it, with her writing style, the stories, and ultimately her journey. I felt connections to the characters she wrote about, and didn't want the book to end. Definitely a fantastic read.
Forensicbronxnurse More than 1 year ago
Amazing book, detailed, honest, funny and powerful. I highly recommend this for all young girls to read. Rosie you are wonderful and so talented, keep up the great work
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an amazing story.  I love a story I cannot put down, but I do have to admit that you will be putting this  book down due to intense emotional moments.  You will laugh, cry, get mad, but most of all fall in love with a little girl who turned into an amazing woman.  I am so Rosie has chosen to share her story with the world and I hope she writes another book.  Keep up the great, Rosie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jan514 More than 1 year ago
Wow, I had no idea about her personal life. She was able to rise from the ashes into stardom. The title of the book says it all.
jme88 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in only two days.  Perez a great way of incorporating her beautiful personality, humor and wit into a heartbreaking story of growing up as a ward of the state.  I am a foster care social worker, and reading this book gave me new insight into the adversity facing children in protective custody and the resiliency and strength it takes to move past it all.  Thank you Ms. Perez for sharing your stoy. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She has lived quiet the life. I admire her strength and courage for coming out with this story. We all have one and it's up to us to figure out what to make of it. I think she's done an excellent job of keeping her s**t together. ;) very inspiring. Great read. It was hard to put down. I also enjoyed reading this and looking up some of the things she's done. Her soul train bits on YouTube are great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago