Melissa Explains It All Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 6 CDs (7 hours)
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At four years old, Melissa Joan Hart started acting in commercials. By 15, she was starring in her own TV show. Now, the actress, wife, and mother offers her take on things like celebrity, romance, college football, and her ability to live a so-called “normal” life in her autobiography, Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life.

Hart’s story begins in a normal neighborhood in Long Island, where a four-year-old girl decided that she wanted to be on TV. Though her family barely had enough money to take her into the city for call-backs, she managed to book commercials while still living a normal life in the suburbs.

While detailing her career—from commercials and theater to Clarissa Explains It All, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and beyond—Hart also opens up about her family, her relationships, her co-stars, and the acts of youthful rebellion that somehow managed to evade the media.

The audio version of Hart’s autobiography gets off to a shaky start. Hart’s writing and narration are both sometimes uncomfortably self-conscious—and it seems as though she’s trying way too hard to make her words and her delivery come off as witty and spunky (like her most beloved characters). Eventually, she hits her stride, settling into her own style and tone—but, unfortunately, that’s not the end of the book’s problems, as the issues shift from the delivery to the content.

At times, Hart’s story is intriguing. Her tales of starting out as a child actor—an activity that she insists was just as normal as other kids’ dance classes or soccer practice—are pretty remarkable. And during the few times when she dishes (as politely as possible, of course) about her famous co-stars—like a stuffy William Hurt, a demanding young Drew Barrymore, and an entirely unappealing James Van Der Beek—her observations are sly and amusing enough to make the book a guilty pleasure. But if you’re expecting seven hours of celebrity gossip and outrageous tell-alls, you’ll be disappointed.

Throughout it all, Hart maintains that her life was (and continues to be) perfectly normal—and she backs up her assertions by telling uninteresting tales of her relationships with ex-boyfriends and her husband’s obsession with college football. It’s at times like these when even she seems to lose interest in the story—and she simply drones through the narration. But it’s hard to believe that hers is really a perfectly normal life when she begins detailing the lavish parties that she’s thrown—or her excessive drug use at a Playboy Mansion party.

In the end, Melissa Explains It All is an unfocused but mildly interesting celebrity bio—especially if you happen to be a fan of Hart’s work. But in insisting that hers is just another normal life, Hart does herself (and her book) a disservice. Because let’s be honest here: no one wants to listen to someone talking about the details of their totally mundane everyday life—unless it’s over a cup of coffee with a good friend.

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