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Happy Accidents: My Gleeful Life by Jane Lynch

Posted by Caitie F on October 3, 2011

Title: Happy Accidents: My Gleeful Life
Author: Jane Lynch
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Voice (Hyperion)
Date Published: Sept 13, 2011
Rating: +++

Summary (from goodreads)

In the summer of 1974, a fourteen-year-old girl in Dolton, Illinois, had a dream. A dream to become an actress, like her idols Ron Howard and Vicki Lawrence. But it was a long way from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, and it didn’t help that she’d recently dropped out of the school play, The Ugly Duckling. Or that the Hollywood casting directors she wrote to replied that “professional training was a requirement.”

But the funny thing is, it all came true. Through a series of Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch created an improbable and hilarious path to success. In those early years, despite her dreams, she was also consumed with anxiety, feeling out of place in both her body and her family. To deal with her worries about her sexuality, she escaped in positive ways such as joining a high school chorus not unlike the one in Glee but also found destructive outlets. She started drinking almost every night her freshman year of high school and developed a mean and judgmental streak that turned her into a real- life Sue Sylvester.

Then, at thirty-one, she started to get her life together. She was finally able to embrace her sexuality, come out to her parents, and quit drinking for good. Soon after, a Frosted Flakes commercial and a chance meeting in a coffee shop led to a role in the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show, which helped her get cast in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Similar coincidences and chance meetings led to roles in movies starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and even Meryl Streep in 2009’s Julie & Julia. Then, of course, came the two lucky accidents that truly changed her life. Getting lost in a hotel led to an introduction to her future wife, Lara. Then, a series she’d signed up for abruptly got canceled, making it possible for her to take the role of Sue Sylvester in Glee, which made her a megastar.


It seems like so many celebrities are writing memoirs now. I tend to not read them, unless they are someone I really love. After getting to meet Jane Lynch at BEA (she was lovely), I knew I would have to read her book too, especially since I am a Gleek (who else is excited for tomorrow’s episode??).

It is good, not great. Jane is a decent writer. When she is more passionate about an idea, her writing stands out. But there are also times when she repeats herself and isn’t as focused which greatly slows everything down.

What I loved was reading about everything she had to do to overcome her addictions and struggles with her personal demons and flaws. She is honest about herself and her journey to finding who she really was, and that was the most enjoyable part of the book. She was not always such a nice and gracious person, but I think it is great that she sees that and learned from it.

I really wish the past 5 years had more of the focus of the book. Her struggles just went on and on and could have been condensed. Once she is beating those things and learning to be the amazing, caring, and wonderful woman she is now, she is more interesting and the book is more enjoyable to read. I found myself getting very down in the middle third, which made this book a very long read. I just wish she hadn’t written this year. I think in three to five more years it would have been a more complete and interesting book.

It was a decent book, but unless you are a big Jane Lynch, I would say you can skip it.

One Response to “Happy Accidents: My Gleeful Life by Jane Lynch”

  1. I don’t watch Glee, so I don’t really follow Lynch. My mom is a fan of hers, so I bet she’d enjoy the book.

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