Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi – Book Review

This book affected me so much that even now, over a fortnight since I finished reading it, I can’t stop thinking of it. I read it in two days because I could not put it down. The journey of the obsession of Portia de Rossi felt like it became my journey, and it was a ride that I really wanted to get off. But I couldn’t stop until I reached the end. Until I knew that she was okay.

Would this book have been so interesting if it was the story of an unknown person? I don’t think so. Celebrity is an interesting thing. I know more than I ever needed to know about a whole bunch of people who I don’t care about, and I barely follow these things. De Rossi being a celebrity was a major player in this story – as an actress on a world-wide hit show, she had to deal with paparazzi and constant scrutiny. What’s more, as she became dangerously underweight, she received praise from those around her in this world, and it was this praise that she fed on, ignoring the fears of her family and friends.

Whilst her emotion is what keeps me thinking of the book, it is the almost detached detail that kept me tightly engaged throughout. The constant thought of how to burn just a few more calories, or the obsessiveness of the weighing of the food. It is fascinating and horrifying. In addition to this, she is quite pragmatic about her sexuality and again detaches her feelings regarding her sexuality from her actions. I wonder if she could have had the mainstream success that she has had if she had been open to the world?

De Rossi hopes that sharing her story will help others who are going through or have been through the ringer of eating disorders. I don’t know whether it will, but I hope it does. It certainly shows that the image that someone projects can be vastly different from what they feel inside. I’m glad to know that this journey is over for her now.

For more reviews of Unbearable Lightness, go to the Hardie Grant Book Club

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