Brave by Rose McGowan | Book Reviews | Memoir

By Swirl and Thread

“Hello fellow human, pleased to meet you. My name is Rose McGowan and I am BRAVE. I want you to be too.”

Brave is the no-holds barred memoir/manifesto by Rose McGowan, just published with HQ Stories. Described as ‘raw, honest and poignant….an unstoppable force for change who is determined to expose the truth about the entertainment industry, dismantle the concept of fame, shine a light on a multibillion-dollar business built on systemic misogyny, and empower people everywhere to wake up and be BRAVE.’

I have to admit I was a little wary embarking on this book as I really did not know what to expect.

“My life, as you will read, has taken me from one cult to another. BRAVE is the story of how I fought my way out of these cults and reclaimed my life. I want to help you do the same.”

Ok, I have to state from the get-go, that for me, this was a very angry book. I am obviously very aware of who Rose McGowan is and I have seen her in Charmed when the series was on television. What I did not know was the girl behind the screen.

Rose McGowan had a very troubled upbringing. Born into a cult in Italy, the Children of God, Rose seemed very aware from a young age that this life she lived was very different. She would look at other children and then at herself, and feel envy for the clothes and the smiles that these other kids wore. After escaping the cult with her father and siblings, Rose moved to America where she was immersed into a world of popular culture and the McDonald’s generation that was completely alien and frightening to her. With her mother still in Italy, Rose is passed from pillar to post for a number of years. Her father suffered his own demons and was unable to care for Rose. On the return of her mother, Rose had a brief respite from the chaotic nature of the life she lived but her mother subsequently moved onto new relationships and Rose was abandoned from a very young age to fend for herself.

Rose McGowan had a very distressing experience growing up. In fact Rose McGowan never had to ‘grow up’ because she never got to be a child in the first place. As Rose continued her very traumatic journey in life, her path took her to Hollywood where she became a well known actress, a person regularly frequenting red carpet events and smiling the obligatory smile for the media hounds.

As we now know, this was NOT the real Rose McGowan. What we were witnessing was an act, a person who was caught up in a living nightmare incapable of extricating herself away from the people surrounding her. A person afraid of her own shadow. A person caught up in a living hell.

We all are now only too familiar with the disintegration of Hollywood’s shiny star, as was initially triggered by the brave revelations of Rose McGowan, when she decided she was unwilling to continue living a lie, living this hellish existence of an almost suspended reality. Burnt out and unable to focus anymore Rose stood up and spoke out. Brave is her story.

What did I think of Brave?

I find this a very difficult question to answer. Brave is most definitely raw and as I mentioned previously, a very very angry book. Rose McGowan refers to having her life ‘infiltrated by Israeli spies and harassing lawyers’ as she wrote this book. Obviously there were those who did not want Rose McGowan to tell her story.

I have been reading more memoirs recently and have found them quite fascinating. A memoir tells the story of somebody’s life and who am I to discredit their words but unfortunately, for me, I did not find Brave fascinating. If I had to pick one emotion, I think I found it sad.

‘Your entertainment comes at a cost to us performers. You should know this and acknowledge.’

Rose McGowan is now forging ahead with her life with this book, an album, a skincare range and a documentary all due out in 2018. I felt toward the end of the book I didn’t need to read about these new developments as they felt rather promotional in a book that was slating the falseness of the society we all live in today. In parts of the book, I felt I was being preached to and being told that the life I have chosen to live with my ‘picket fence’, the ‘cult’ that I inhabit is not worth anything.

Yet in other parts Rose McGowan is inspiring in her words.

‘I think it’s bizarre and tragic how society pushes us to say we are what we are because of the job we do. The question “What do you do?” really means what do they pay you for, as if that’s your defining characteristic. Everything else is a”hobby” But those are also things you are and do. Just because you don’t make money at it doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. It’s as valid as going to the office, maybe more so.’

‘Just know that if people are saying cruel things to you and about you, you can weather it, you will survive. If you can get to a place where you are okay marching to your own beat, you will thrive and be free. I promise you, it gets better.’

And finally…

‘If you were your true self, what would you be? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were all our best selves? I think that’s a noble thing to think about and work towards.’

Brave is a memoir and a manifesto wrapped into one. My own very personal opinion is that two books would have been the better option. The memoir is very personal and very distressing, whereas the manifesto is uplifting and inspiring. I found it very difficult to move between such inspirational thoughts and suddenly to find myself almost in tears of the life lived.

I’m completely on the fence with this book. Did I love it? Did I dislike it? I just don’t know. What I do know is that it has lifted the veneer on Hollywood’s glossy image. It has made others join in the struggle to be Brave and to be counted. I think everyone will come away from this book with something but be prepared it is not an easy read…

Tough, fearless, distressing, uplifting….Brave, overall for me, was a bleak read yet one that I am glad I have read as it has educated me and that can never be a bad thing!

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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