Thursday, February 16, 2023

February Read: Finding Me by Viola Davis


I've always admired Viola Davis as an actor and as a woman. I've always thought she had such poise, dignity, and class. And that voice--stops me in my tracks. 

When Viola recently won a Grammy and became an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winner) I decided it was time to read her memoir. 

Wow. Not at all what I was prepared for when I began her memoir. Viola's childhood was rife with extreme poverty. Often going hungry, living in a building that was actually condemned, seeing her father abuse her mother repeatedly. Viola and her sisters and brother were exposed to so much as children it isn't at all surprising she talks about how they all wet their beds for years and years. 

She speaks about how they had no way to be clean, and often had to wear wet clothes to school because hand washing the night before and hanging clothes didn't dry them in time. How she was made fun of at  school and chased home, knowing if she was caught she'd be beat up. How being dark made her feel ugly and not pretty like the lighter skinned black children. 

But what Viola and her sisters had was imagination, and their escape into putting on plays was the beginning of the way out. They were all also very smart kids who were determined to escape poverty. They knew education was the way out. 

What I found interesting is how Viola's significant accomplishments--those awards she's won over the years--she talks about them, but doesn't make a big deal of them. They're important, but so much else in her personal journey of acceptance was so much more important. The value of self-love was her biggest reward, and something that was a long time coming. 

After reading Finding Me, I admire Viola Davis even more than I did before. She's overcome overwhelming obstacles through determination and a hard won belief in herself. I can't wait to see what she does next. 

Rating: 5/6 for a compelling memoir about creating a life of happiness and success, appreciating all of it, and loving that scared little girl who ran home from school every day. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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