More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
More Myself by Alicia Keys is a memoir by an artist whose wins seem to dominate the losses, making the book less relatable, but she tells her story of striving to lead an inspiring life.
Alicia starts her story of being a girl in a cab with her mother and seeing a sex worker outside in the wintertime. She asks her mother about the woman standing on the corner, and the way her mother answers her question plants a seed for her to remember to work hard for her dreams to come true. She then takes us through her childhood in 1980s and 1990s Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, near Times Square and the theater district. It’s not the neighborhood it is now but one that was riddled with crime where she lived with her single mother, a former actress. She talks about her strained relationship with her father, who she sees seldomly throughout her childhood as he starts another family. As she navigates adolescence in New York City, she’s working on her music with her older music producer boyfriend Kerry “Krucial” Brothers. She lies about her age to him several times as their romantic and career-defining relationship grows. Then she’s offered a record deal simultaneously as an acceptance to Columbia University. She learns quickly she can’t juggle college and music, so she drops school and dedicates herself to become a full-fledged artist. Once her debut album Songs in A Minor drops in 2001, she solidifies her music superstardom.
Actually listening to Alicia’s voice on audiobook brought the story alive, though her hardships seem little compared to her success. For years, she tends to talk about her life in rough New York City with her single mother, but with her piano and singing skills, she’s signed to her first record deal at 15-years-old. That already puts her above the average upbringing in that same scenario. Unlike Jessica Simpson’s Open Book where that singer describes hardships before and throughout her career, Alicia’s story fails to come off as relatable to the average reader. It does leave that awe-inspiring glow of “if you stick to your dreams, then your dreams come true,” which we all know does not add up for most people. Alicia’s chapters open up with words from her husband Swizz Beatz, Jay-Z, Clive Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and America Ferrera. Also as well as her father and her ex Krucial, both relationships she has repaired to the point they’re willing to contribute vocal notes to her audiobook. Again, not the most relatable move but could be seen as inspiring. Don’t we all want to repair past relationships so when those people are mentioned in our memoirs they get a say? Maybe, maybe not.
Overall, it’s a positive, not-as-moving portrait of a famous singer who sings on the audiobook at times with her voice really illustrating her story in a more entertaining way.