My Judy Garland Life: A Memoir by Susie Boyt

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My Judy Garland Life: A Memoir
320 pages; Bloomsbury
I'm not prone to hero worship—seeing feet of clay on the shiniest of role models—and while I love The Wizard of Oz, I'm not exactly a Judy Garland "fan." It took me by surprise, then, that I couldn't put down Susie Boyt's quirkily brilliant My Judy Garland Life: A Memoir. Boyt has plenty to write about in the manner of a regular biography of bohemian life (she's the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud and daughter of the famous British painter Lucian Freud), but the scrim through which she chooses to analyze herself is her obsession with the troubled, outrageously gifted Garland. Intertwining key times in the star's life and in her own, and plowing through every record, film, and account of Garland she can lay her hands on, Boyt reaches winsome, deeply honest conclusions about the nature of celebrity worship and her own need for love. Best of all, Boyt keeps a sense of humor about the sheer madness of the whole project that is contagious and ultimately uplifting—not unlike the trouper spirit of Ms. Garland herself.

— Elaina Richardson