“My Thoughts Exactly” (2018) by Lily Allen

Memoir, published by Bonnier Publishing, September 2018, paperback edition, 352 pages. ISBN: 978-1-911600-91-6 .
"My thoughts exactly" by Lily Allen | Prose & Paper

Writing about memoirs is something I find really hard, because the book’s content is so personal to someone I have most likely never met in my life.

After having listened to Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton on BookBeat and finding out that, surprisingly, I like memoirs, I stumbled upon My Thoughts Exactly. It, too, is being read by the author herself, which always adds another layer to the story. I had heard about the book when it came out, it was reported in many newspapers at the time. The even bigger story probably was that she had had affairs with female prostitutes when she was on tour, or at least that’s what I remember most.

In My Thoughts Exactly, musician Lily Allen tells her story. She talks about her upbringing, the environment she grew up in, how she became famous, and how she handled it. We learn about her addictions, about the role MySpace played in her career, about her pregnancies, about the sexual assault she experienced in the music industry, about her stalker, and we learn about her recovery.

So, this is me. Lily Allen.

I am a woman.

I am a mother.

I was a wife.

I drink.

I have taken drugs.

I have loved and been let down.

I am a success and a failure.

I am a songwriter.

I am a singer.

I am all these things and more.

When women share their stories, loudly and clearly and honestly, things begin to change – for the better.

This is my story.

I have always liked the singer Lily Allen. Her music is fun, unusual, clever. A couple of years ago, I went to see one of her shows and I was impressed by her musical talent. In an interview that was added as a bonus to the audiobook, she said how she didn’t love the experience of reading her own memoir. Personally, I am glad she did it. (She also said she read the book because people have become too lazy to read, which I did not find particularly nice.) As mentioned before, I think having her read her own story adds another layer to it. It feels a lot more personal. She sounded almost annoyed at times, amused, disappointed, removed, a little uncomfortable, but also very soft and vulnerable. What moved me the most was the way she talked about motherhood, especially about losing a child. That really got me.

What I liked most about the book is how candid it felt. We get a real good look into what it’s like to be famous, and you can’t help but feel for her. She also addresses how privileged she is, and even though she doesn’t explore that further, she seems to be aware of it, which a lot of privileged people don’t seem to be. If you like Lily Allen, if you like reading about success and failure, about struggling and healing, about what it can be like to be famous, this book might be for you.