Handbook For An Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata And My Crazy Mother And Still Came Out Smiling (With Great Hair)
It’s quite a title, but sums up Rosie Perez’s autobiography in a nutshell. Rosie was born of an affair her mother had and was promptly left in the care of her paternal aunt. After three years, her mother demanded Rosie back, only to dump her in “the home,” a prison-like residence run by sadistic nuns.
Her aunt was a loving, steady and joyful woman. Through her youthful ordeal, Rosie knew she was loved, especially when her father became a part of her life. However, the mother was not just crazy, but abusive and manipulative as well. This created a special hell for the kid, but that didn’t stop young Rosie from enjoying what there was to enjoy.
This included being a little performer. Rosie loved dancing and grew up to frequent the many clubs in New York and Los Angeles, where she went to attend college and help out one of her numerous troubled siblings. Her skills led to a long stint on Soul Train, then as a Fly Girl, choreographer, actress. She breakout role was in “Do The Right Thing,” which led to more major movies.
From poverty to fame, suffering to hard work, this story inspires. The evil woman who birthed her couldn’t stop Rosie from realizing immense potential, even with the expected bumps along the way. The book brings attention to the harsh way unwanted children – from infancy to age eighteen – were treated when they became “a ward of the State of New York and the ‘property’ of the Catholic Church.’
The hair mention on the cover intrigued me, because hair is both our nemesis and flowy facial frame. For so many of us, though, getting hair to look attractive becomes a major skill set and time suck. I met Rosie Perez at a book talk and signing and I can attest that (1) the hair is gorgeous and (2) she is very gracious.
Love this quote:
You can live in a ghetto, but that doesn’t mean you were ghetto. Back home, ghetto didn’t mean that you were poor or used a certain vernacular or even had a temper. Ghetto meant possessing a certain ignorant mentality. It meant thinking that type of ignorance was cute: lacking empathy and doing stupid, malicious things because you just didn’t care about the human cost.
A testament to her character and empathy.