Review: Lily Allen’s My Thoughts Exactly

Lily Allen’s memoir My Thoughts Exactly is brutally honest and refreshingly bare.  Salacious headlines that have emerged surrounding Lily’s book launch, such as that she slept with Noel Gallagher whilst he was married, might lead people to assume that the memoir was simply a tool to stir up publicity and drama for her most recent album. However, the book carries you at an incredibly fast pace as you discover Lily’s story to be shocking, scandalous, outrageous, intimate, humble and insightful all at the same time.

Whilst parts of Lily’s storytelling, such as her recollection of excessive drug-taking and hedonism, can make the reader feel alienated from Lily and the hectic world that she inhabits, there are also many heart-wrenching and painfully honest parts of her experience that truly allow you to understand the inner-workings of fame and the contradictory effect it can have on an individual. Lily focuses on the dichotomy between the ‘Cartoon Lily’ that the tabloids invented and thrived on, which began to seep into and distort the more authentic side of her personality.

There is a sense that this memoir was a deeply cathartic way for Lily to take back ownership of her own narrative and self (thinking especially about the chapter entitled ‘Assault) and she does so in an incredibly witty, yet powerful, way. Lily Allen is an example of the way in which strong women are constantly being told that they are ‘too much’, ‘too loud’, ‘too sexual’, ‘too unconventional’ and ‘too opinionated’. Lily must be admired for writing this book and for continuing to use her voice as a woman – yet also admitting and taking accountability for when she’s not always right (the part where she apologises to Cheryl Cole for reducing her career to ‘taking your clothes off, doing sexy dancing and marrying a rich footballer’ is particularly enjoyable).

The focus on Mental Health Day last week makes Lily’s memoir especially poignant and is an interesting insight into the way childhood, fame and abuse can lead to a self-destructive downward spiral, whilst also finishing the book with the powerful sentiment that she has no shame for her past but has instead chosen to embrace it.

Carina Bryan

Images: [The Guardian, Amazon, Mais Goias]