True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age

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In the introduction to True Stories from an Unreliable Witness, actress Christine Lahti refers to the essays in her first book as “emotional memories, the goo that surrounds the facts, the parasitic muck that attaches to them.” Upon reading the twenty essays Lahti has written, the twenty memories she has chosen to share reveal themselves to be not only meaningful for Lahti but for anyone navigating the waters of aging, activism, and what it means to be an adult.

In the earlier essays–the book is ordered chronologically–Lahti focuses on her childhood experiences. Her writing is rich with detail, pathos, and the kind of aching innocence we all remember. When a boy passes her a note proclaiming Santa isn’t real, her immediate reaction is to say she believes in him no matter what someone else says. She goes on to proclaim that the fairies that fly around her pillow at night are real as her closest friend goes on about how cute the note-passing boy is. In this chapter, titled “Make-Believer,” Lahti is nine and on the balance beam between being a child and beginning to grow up. Her recollection is a revelation, so honest and true that you can’t help but be transported back to your own moments of growing up, however hilarious or painful they may be.

Each essay is infused with what it means to be a woman, to be powerful, and to accept yourself. The feminism is ingrained, particularly in the chapter “Brave.” Lahti recounts an earthquake that left her terrified, paralyzed in the upper part of her home while her husband comforted her children downstairs. She felt weak and powerless, something the characters she portrayed would never have experienced, and it brings about the realization that she has pushed herself to never seem vulnerable or in need. When she comes clean to her husband, his acceptance of her truth makes her feel “the bravest, most kick-ass” she has in some time. She sees that being honest about who she is and what she needs isn’t weakness, it is strength, it is human, and it is feminist.

Anyone who has loved Lahti on stage and screen, or those just discovering her though this book, will howl with laughter and sigh with familiarity as they follow her through the goo and muck.

Reviewed By:

Author Christine Lahti
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 224 pages
Publisher Harper Wave
Publish Date 2018-Apr-03
ISBN 9780062663672 Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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