Title: Happy Accidents
Author: Jane Lynch
Narrator: Jane Lynch
Audiobook Length: 7 hours, 4 minutes
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“In the summer of 1974, a fourteen-year-old girl in Dolton, Illinois, had a dream. A dream to become an actress, like her idols Ron Howard and Vicki Lawrence. But it was a long way from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, and it didn’t help that she’d recently dropped out of the school play, The Ugly Duckling. Or that the Hollywood casting directors she wrote to replied that ‘professional training was a requirement.’
But the funny thing is, it all came true. Through a series of Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch created an improbable and hilarious path to success. In those early years, despite her dreams, she was also consumed with anxiety, feeling out of place in both her body and her family. To deal with her worries about her sexuality, she escaped in positive ways such as joining a high school chorus not unlike the one in Glee but also found destructive outlets. She started drinking almost every night her freshman year of high school and developed a mean and judgmental streak that turned her into a real- life Sue Sylvester.
Then, at thirty-one, she started to get her life together. She was finally able to embrace her sexuality, come out to her parents, and quit drinking for good. Soon after, a Frosted Flakes commercial and a chance meeting in a coffee shop led to a role in the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show, which helped her get cast in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Similar coincidences and chance meetings led to roles in movies starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and even Meryl Streep in 2009’s Julie & Julia. Then, of course, came the two lucky accidents that truly changed her life. Getting lost in a hotel led to an introduction to her future wife, Lara. Then, a series she’d signed up for abruptly got canceled, making it possible for her to take the role of Sue Sylvester in Glee, which made her a megastar.
Today, Jane Lynch has finally found the contentment she thought she’d never have. Part comic memoir and part inspirational narrative, this is a book equally for the rabid Glee fan and for anyone who needs a new perspective on life, love, and success.”
Thoughts: Jane Lynch is one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood right now. I fell in love with her during the movie Best in Show and have watched her star rocket upward ever since then. She is a bit like a female version of Ron Howard’s brother, in that she has been in almost everything, but she is always excellent at whatever role she is portraying. However, behind the sarcasm and silliness is someone who has struggled with feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness her entire life.
On the surface, Jane has it all. She was born into a upper middle-class family in the Chicago suburbs, had a stable and loving relationship with her parents, a close relationship with her siblings, determination, talent, and success. In Happy Accidents, however, Jane reveals how much of what seems idyllic on the surface has come after much soul-searching, doubt, anxiety, and surprising of all, alcohol.
Jane is refreshingly honest in her concerns about her sexuality and how it impacted her relationship with her family as well as relationships with other women. She does not hide the impact alcohol had on her life, and while some readers may feel that she did not really have an abuse problem, Jane provides plenty of reasons why alcohol had become a problem for her. At times, Happy Accidents does read like a who’s who of Hollywood, but it is a testament to her talent that she has been able to work with a huge list of very successful actors.
While it can always be a bit dangerous to have an author read his or her own novel, Jane Lynch proves that her story is best told by her. Her obvious emotions at parts of her journey, along with her own wry observations, add an element of entertainment to this touching and heartfelt story. Fans of Glee will be surprised at the depth and length of Jane’s resume, and fans of Jane will rejoice in their ability to learn even more about a truly talented and gracious actor.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Beth Harper of HarperAudio for my review copy!