Sunday, November 29, 2015

Born with Teeth

Book 33 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from June 21 - 24

Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew

Summary (via Goodreads)
Raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew "how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil," Kate Mulgrew grew up with poetry and drama in her bones. But in her mother, a would-be artist burdened by the endless arrival of new babies, young Kate saw the consequences of a dream deferred. Determined to pursue her own no matter the cost, at 18 she left her small Midwestern town for New York, where, studying with the legendary Stella Adler, she learned the lesson that would define her as an actress: "Use it," Adler told her. Whatever disappointment, pain, or anger life throws in your path, channel it into the work.
It was a lesson she would need. At twenty-two, just as her career was taking off, she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Having already signed the adoption papers, she was allowed only a fleeting glimpse of her child. As her star continued to rise, her life became increasingly demanding and fulfilling, a whirlwind of passionate love affairs, life-saving friendships, and bone-crunching work. Through it all, Mulgrew remained haunted by the loss of her daughter, until, two decades later, she found the courage to face the past and step into the most challenging role of her life, both on and off screen.
We know Kate Mulgrew for the strong women she's played--Captain Janeway on Star Trek; the tough-as-nails "Red" on Orange is the New Black. Now, we meet the most inspiring and memorable character of all: herself. By turns irreverent and soulful, laugh-out-loud funny and heart-piercingly sad, Born With Teeth is the breathtaking memoir of a woman who dares to live life to the fullest, on her own terms. 

My Opinion
The pages turned easily and quickly.  Kate is an excellent storyteller.  Some parts are tinged with bitterness, some are told in snips and pieces to leave the reader to read between the lines, and almost all paint herself in a favorable light (although she briefly touches on it in toward the end, I imagine her sons had to have been more affected by her work/lifestyle than she acknowledges).

Giving her baby up for adoption was a loss she felt throughout her life but she tried to get on as best she could, and I'm glad she found a happy ending.

The ending of the book was a bit abrupt.  I had to look up for my own curiosity if she ended up with Tim since the picture made it appear that she did but he wasn't listed in the acknowledgements.

On a personal note, the story about her character Kathryn Janeway originally being named Elizabeth made me smile.  My husband picked the name Katherine for our oldest daughter and he's always told her she was named for the strong female character (he's a sci-fi fan).  I don't know if he's teasing her or if that's really how he came upon the name, but after reading that I told Katie she could've been an Elizabeth instead (like a true fan, Kevin wasn't surprised when I told him because he already knew that fun fact).

A Few Quotes from the Book
"But Catholic girls from good families don't miss chances; they dodge bullets and slowly relinquish their dreams. They go to Mass and wait for a miracle and aren't terribly surprised when it arrives in the shape of a handsome young man with modest ambition, dry wit, and honorable intentions."

" "I'm scared, B," I said. "There doesn't seem to be any way out."
   "No," Beth corrected me, "there are, in fact, several ways out, but all of them are painful. You have to know your own tolerance for pain, what you can endure, what you know you can live with, and what you can't live without." "

"Actresses...Madly in the love with the child. Madly in love with the craft. Trying desperately to forge an alliance between the two, and constantly failing. If I were a man, I said to myself, none of this would be in question. My children would respect me, my wife would honor me, and everyone would exalt the work. But turn the knife just slightly to the left, and what you have is a harried woman sneaking out before dawn, cracking the whip for sixteen hours on a soundstage, creeping back home under cover of night, forever explaining, forever apologizing, forever in conflict."

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