Book Review: Rebel Rising By Rebel Wilson

Book Review: Rebel Rising By Rebel Wilson
Rebel Wilson’s image has been of breaking the mould from the very first time she burst onto our international screens, in a pair with Matt Lucas, bickering as Kristen Wiig’s nightmare sibling flatmates in Bridesmaids. She’s not so much followed a path, more scored out a journey into the cliff face of show business and societal expectations. As a woman – and a larger woman at that for the majority of her life – she has made a remarkable feat of seizing agency of her own life and career, with a steely determination that put her persona front and centre, little noting the small, shy child she came from.
Compassionate, intelligent, articulate, funny, touching, honest – Rebel Rising puts forward a woman with integrity. There’s affection for her 'bogan' history, colourful and conjured with a pride in her own roots and bootstraps. She forges her own path with hard work and ice cream, avoiding sensationalising her own story, but handling it with the reflection of her older self collaborating with her younger diaries, the first and second half of the book neatly pivoting on the moment she breaks through as an acting professional.
The book doesn’t shrink from the difficult – Wilson’s relationship with her father, the thorny landscape of male-dominated Australian television comedy, and at times a deep loneliness.
Shot through here is a determination to work hard, a competitive streak to win, one so strong it side swipes her acute shyness in favour of business savvy or talent show raps. Wilson is unsensationally candid about her own poor eating habits in a manner that manages to simultaneously make me crave a family chocolate bar and fear diabetes by osmosis.
Her relationship with food is a complex one, that she doesn’t attempt to deconstruct but does present honestly and with all of the contradictions of self-harm and self-care juxtaposed. It’s a family thing, it’s a comfort thing, it’s a safety thing, it’s so many things that the wise action is simply to breadcrumb the information about it throughout her story and let the bigger picture come to the fore in its own time - which is exactly what she does. 
A classic combination of low self esteem and fierce work ethic, driving her not only to ruggedly pursue the golden ticket of the acting career a malaria fever dream spurred, but simultaneously a law degree - in case of failure. And surprisingly, no love life at all for decades. 
She’s so intelligent and ballsy because it feels like she has no other option in order to survive and break away from the cycle her family present, of women’s love and hope punished and abusive men tolerated for the sake of the family fairytale. 
Rebel is immensely proud of all that she has achieved, and rightly so. Not arrogant, but proud - of hard work and survival. No wonder she fought the Australian press in court when they called her a liar. 
The book name drops like a legend but never feels forced. There’s an intimate conspiratorial vibe to it, like a new friend - but one who has their shit together. She celebrates the highs (hosting the MTV awards and successfully arguing The Hustle down from an R rating to PG-13 to the ratings boards) and marks the lows (drama school rejections, falling out of a stage prop from a great height) with equal candour and compassion. It’s engaging and very easy to tear through without dumbing down, reminding us that she is actually a professional writer among the many strings to her bow.
You don’t have to be a fan of Rebel Wilson to enjoy Rebel Rising. She’s a talented storyteller, and has picked the stories we’d like to hear from amongst the ones she’s prepared to tell. Even in this supposed tell-all there’s an awareness of Wilson’s sober control at the rudder of it. Which is good, continuing her own agency of her career consistently. Proving it can be done, as she deliberately leaves the scored new pathway open for others to follow.

Buy Rebel Rising here.


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