Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits

Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits

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by Ricki Lake
     
 

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The world first met Ricki Lake in 1988 as Tracy Turnblad in the film Hairspray. Weighing in at just over 200 pounds, the 5'3" teenager challenged what it meant to be an overweight woman in America: this fat girl got the guy, was part of the in crowd, and could sing and dance like nobody was watching. When she got her own talk show at twenty-four, RickiSee more details below

Overview

The world first met Ricki Lake in 1988 as Tracy Turnblad in the film Hairspray. Weighing in at just over 200 pounds, the 5'3" teenager challenged what it meant to be an overweight woman in America: this fat girl got the guy, was part of the in crowd, and could sing and dance like nobody was watching. When she got her own talk show at twenty-four, Ricki had been transformed. She was a slender, mature woman whose long-running show changed daytime television forever. And when Ricki left it all behind to follow her heart and produce The Business of Being Born, we once again saw her in a new light, as a passionate advocate who wasn’t afraid to stand up for her beliefs and work for change.

Ricki Lake’s life has been a series of rebirths—from fat to skinny, married to divorced, rich to poor, and more. In her intimate, bold, and relatable book, Ricki shows us how her unique life in the spotlight offers wisdom to anyone who has ever struggled in her own skin. She takes us behind the scenes of her troubled childhood—filled with food issues, abuse, and an unabashed yearning for a better life outside of her suburban home. She pulls back the curtain on her talk show and her early days as a “fat actress,” and she shows how she reinvented herself as an author, filmmaker, and much beloved finalist on Dancing with the Stars. Ricki weathered near-bankruptcy and an extremely difficult divorce, but, as she writes, life always hands you the unexpected—so you should never say never. Much to her surprise, Ricki has dated some of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors, appeared on the cover of Us Weekly magazine in a swimsuit, and fell in love when she least expected it. And now she’s ready to talk about it all.

Never Say Never is an inspiring, entertaining, and down-to-earth account of one woman who defied the odds and refused to give up. By trusting her gut and following her heart, Ricki Lake turned an unconventional life into an unparalleled triumph, and this memoir stands as a hopeful, hilarious, and honest exploration of how any woman can do the same.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reminiscent of her eponymous talk show, Lake gossips about her accomplishments and failures using her weight as the through line. After a trusted handyman sexually abuses her at age seven, she turned to food to become “invisible.” Her parents callously glossed over the problem, and she ate her way to 200-plus pounds while studying theater. Lake abandoned college when director John Waters sought “a fat girl who can really dance.” Neatly landing the part of Trudy Turnblad, she cheerfully recalls her days filming Hairspray, learning life lessons from cult actor Divine. Emerging stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, Christian Slater, and Johnny Depp decorated the early Hollywood days while Lake’s weight issues convey more authenticity: “Some days I thought I was attractive; other days, I knew I was disgusting.” As job offers dried up, she dieted and got a breast reduction. One-hundred pounds lighter, 23-year-old Lake got her own show that ran for 11 seasons. Instead of dissecting its cultural relevance, Lake concentrates on love and sex. Her passion for her birth documentary, The Business of Being Born, switched her focus to feminism for a beat but soon she was back to body issues as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Minus much scoop, Lake gives a glimpse into what makes this self-proclaimed alpha-woman tick. Agent: Andy McNicol at WME. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"A sometimes-humorous, self-reflective chronicle of a triumphant journey through a troublesome childhood, chaotic young adulthood and fulfilled middle age." —Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews
Actress, talk-show host and documentary film producer Lake is returning to television. Is there a better way to crank up the excitement level for a new talk show than with a tell-all memoir for your fans? The author begins with a discussion of her abuse as a 7-year-old by the handyman in the family's basement while her mother sat upstairs. Her parents' lack of response to her trauma laid the groundwork for her emotional problems, manifested in Lake's overeating habits. "To this day," she writes, "I believe that it was my parents' silence in the wake of the abuse--even more than the abuse itself--that wounded me so badly." After seeing a Broadway production of Annie with her grandmother, Lake was determined to pursue her dream of becoming an actor. During her freshman year at college, Lake landed a starring role as Tracy Turnblad, a "fat girl who can really dance," in John Waters' Hairspray. From then on, the author's life became a series of professional and personal successes followed by calamities and weight gain. At one time Lake weighed 260 pounds, but she landed a gig as the host of a provocative talk show, which aired for 11 years. She married and had two children, but her marriage ended in a nasty divorce. The births of her children changed Lake's life, and she became a passionate advocate for the birthing rights movement, resulting in her documentary, The Business of Being Born. Following numerous failed relationships, author found a man who gives her "truly unconditional love." For readers who revel in the vicissitudes of the lives of media personalities, Lake's narrative will be a treat. A sometimes-humorous, self-reflective chronicle of a triumphant journey through a troublesome childhood, chaotic young adulthood and fulfilled middle age.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451627190
Publisher:
Atria Books
Publication date:
04/17/2012
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
45 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Read an Excerpt


1

I’ll never be anything special.

I grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, a small town in Westchester County not far from Manhattan, but far enough away from the city that Manhattan always seemed like an exotic and magical place. We were the classic 1970s family of four. My father, Barry, worked as a pharmacist; my mother, Jill, was a stay-at-home mom; I was their firstborn; and my sister, Jennifer, came along just fourteen months after I did.

A few years ago, an interviewer for a parenting magazine asked me, “What’s the best trick your mother ever taught you?”

“How to heat up a Hungry Man for dinner!” was my reply.

The person from whom I did get unconditional love was my father’s mother, my Grandma Sylvia Lake. Doesn’t the name sound as if it should belong to a famous person? It just belongs in lights:

“AND INTRODUCING . . . THE EFFERVESCENT SYLVIA LAKE!”

Grandma Sylvia was nothing short of a movie star to me. She looked like a cross between Patricia Neal and Gena Rowlands—all rosy cheeks and lipstick and glasses—the ultimate glamorous matriarch. Her hair was always “done,” her jewelry always big. She seemed to give off some otherworldly light, since she positively glowed with energy and vibrance. Even though I was short and rotund, and the details of my everyday life were often gray and average, Grandma Sylvia taught me to look at the world through a rainbow-colored prism. (To a big thinker like Grandma Sylvia, rose-colored glasses are for amateur optimists.) Grandma Sylvia was always telling me that I was the smartest, the funniest, the prettiest. She called me “the most talented girl in the world,” even when all I could do was half a cartwheel.

Grandma Sylvia shared her love of the arts with my sister, Jennifer, and me, taking us to the theater in Manhattan almost every weekend. I can still recall every spectacle I ever witnessed with her—from the opera to the ballet, Annie to Pirates of Penzance. I remember the way my heartbeat quickened as the house lights began to dim, the pit orchestra weaved together the first phrases of the overture, and the burgundy velvet curtain started to twitch, then glide its way open to reveal the magic behind it.

I can still conjure up the cozy feeling of grasping my grandmother’s elegant, well-manicured hand with my squishy, miniature mitt as I settled into the seat. Going to the theater offered all the magic of my imagination except I didn’t have to close my eyes. And though Grandma Sylvia and I were part of the audience, she always made me believe I was the star of the show.

My friends often tease me that I see the world through the eyes of a Disney princess, that I open my curtains each morning to savor the sweet smell of citrus trees and the music of songbirds. They’re right—I kind of do.

No disrespect to Mr. Disney, but I inherited my sunny outlook from Grandma Sylvia, not some storybook princess. It was probably her positivity, both genetic and learned, that got me through her death from breast cancer in 1978, when she was only fifty-eight years old, and I was nine.

I still think of her every day because she was the person who enabled me to see the beauty in myself.

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