Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra Jonas is a memoir that delivers insight on the global star’s upbringing before and after fame in the U.S. and India.

Priyanka’s story starts in India where she is a regular seven-year-old, the daughter of military doctors. Naturally when her younger brother is born, she acts out with another sibling in the house. That leads to her being sent to boarding school, where, after the abandonment subsides, she learns how to live independently with her classmates and with decorum. The opportunity eventually leads to going to high school in the Midwest then New York with her aunt and cousins. She gets her first taste of American culture, which of course comes with bullying over her skin color and race. Americanized, she returns to India for her final year of high school, where she exchanges her midriff-baring style for tunics and pants. Now her brother doesn’t want her in the house and sends her photo to be in the Miss India competition.

She prepares for the unpreparable: representing a country that wins global beauty pageants on a regular basis. Without formal knowledge, she and her family string together whatever they can to help her learn to compete on the national level with other young, smart, beautiful women. Her dedication leads to her being crowned with the intention to represent India at the Miss Universe pageant. Though she flubs the final question, she still wins the pageant, securing India back-to-back wins. Since Bollywood film projects want a pageant queen, the woman who had aeronautical engineering goals is now blinded by the entertainment industry that eventually takes her abroad to her leading role in ABC’s Quantico.

Her family is an important part of the story. She is close to her parents who are portrayed as loving and supportive; she even acknowledges that her parents may be more unique than others. A series of botched surgeries to treat cancer takes the life of her father, and she expresses the toll of the grief of seeing her father suffer then recover then suffer again. She also describes the close relationships to her aunts, uncles, and cousins, and how it’s their culture to take care of each other, which affords her the opportunity to go to high school in the U.S. Her marriage years later to pop star Nick Jonas, ten years her junior, is told, where she explains how their courtship just happens naturally and results in a quick, extravagant wedding.

Her Western fame that includes simulating sex scenes sparks backlash in her home country. An insensitive terrorist storyline involving Pakistan on Quantico puts her in the line of the fire again. When she first entered the U.S. entertainment scene as a singer, a gig with the NFL reignites the racism she dealt with in high school. She is accused of getting a nose job when a sinus surgery goes wrong that leads to multiple surgeries fixing the bridge of her nose. The constant criticism motivates her to tackle it head-on, she says, pointing out the hurt of being in the public eye while living out her wildest dreams.

Overall, it’s a celebrity memoir that feels like it’s missing some depth, but learning about the international star and her rise on another continent is interesting as so is learning about her experiences in the U.S. as a teen from India and how that prepared her for the global pageant scene and her acting career.

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