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Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) | [Rosie Perez]

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair)

Rosie Perez first caught our attention with her fierce dance in the title sequence of Do the Right Thing and has since defined herself as a funny and talented actress who broke boundaries for Latinas in the film industry. What most people would be surprised to learn is that the woman with the big, effervescent personality has a secret straight out of a Dickens novel. At the age of three, Rosie’s life was turned upside down when her mentally ill mother tore her away from the only family she knew and placed her in a Catholic children’s home in New York’s Westchester County.
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Publisher's Summary

Rosie Perez first caught our attention with her fierce dance in the title sequence of Do the Right Thing and has since defined herself as a funny and talented actress who broke boundaries for Latinas in the film industry. What most people would be surprised to learn is that the woman with the big, effervescent personality has a secret straight out of a Dickens novel. At the age of three, Rosie’s life was turned upside down when her mentally ill mother tore her away from the only family she knew and placed her in a Catholic children’s home in New York’s Westchester County. Thus began her crazily discombobulated childhood of being shuttled between “the Home,” where she and other kids suffered all manners of cruelty from nuns, and various relatives’ apartments in Brooklyn.

Many in her circumstances would have been defined by these harrowing experiences, but with the intense determination that became her trademark, Rosie overcame the odds and made an incredible life for herself. She brings her journey vividly to life in this memoir - from the vibrant streets of Brooklyn to her turbulent years in the Catholic home, and finally to film and TV sets and the LA and New York City hip-hop scenes of the 1980s and ‘90s.

More than a pause-resisting listen, Handbook for an Unpredictable Life is a story of survival. By turns heartbreaking and funny, it is ultimately the inspirational story of a woman who has found a hard-won place of strength and peace.

©2014 Rosie Perez (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“I read Rosie Perez's magnificent, very real, and heart wrenching book with equal parts joy and horror--horror that the world can and routinely does inflict its terrors on its children, and joy that Rosie made it out to become not only the superior, iconographic artist she is, but the magnificent woman this book reveals her to be. Her voice is the captivating instrument here: forthright, funny, and utterly her own.” (Hilton Als, staff writer, The New Yorker)

“Rosie Perez's Handbook for an Unpredictable Life is a shockingly brave, honest book, filled with so much grace, forgiveness and humor that you feel invigorated reading it. A deeply moving story, told with unapologetic courage and heart.” (George C. Wolfe)

“Reading this story I was shaking my head in amazement that Rosie is even walking around on the earth, still smiling, let alone creating, contributing and caring about the world. I know lots of artists who had to persevere and overcome a lot to get where they got and do what they do, but Rosie takes the prize for triumph of a spirit undimmed. Charles Dickens never dreamed up a more incredible hard-knocks story.” (Edward Norton)

“Rosie Perez has written a brave, hysterical, wise and compulsively readable chronicle of growing up and surviving the dual challenges of a crazy family and crazy life in Hollywood. Like Running With Scissors before it, Handboook for an Unpredictable Life is ultimately a story of survival and will inspire us all.” (Liz Garbus)

“With refreshing candor and sass, Perez transforms the painful details of her life into an inspiring reminder that even the most unforgiving of personal circumstances can be overcome. A spunky and heartfelt memoir.” (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (43 )
5 star
 (31)
4 star
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3 star
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4.6 (41 )
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4.5 (40 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    D. L. Wiley Milford, Ohio 06-26-14
    D. L. Wiley Milford, Ohio 06-26-14 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
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    Story
    "Handbook"
    Where does Handbook for an Unpredictable Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I'd say it ranks near the top.


    What aspect of Rosie Perez’s performance would you have changed?

    While it's great having the author read the book, I noticed she mispronounced some words. I have noticed this with a few of my other audio books. I mean, she wrote it and she doesn't know how to say certain words? I'm sure you can get caught up in reading and it happens, but why wouldn't they start that sentence over or something? I'm sure I'm just being anal about it, but it bothers me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica 06-24-14
    Erica 06-24-14 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    "LOVED!"
    Where does Handbook for an Unpredictable Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Great memoir, cute and inspiring story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Handbook for an Unpredictable Life?

    Rosie Perez brings so much life to her memoir, really brings a lot to the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Hill Omaha NE 05-31-14
    Rhonda Hill Omaha NE 05-31-14 Member Since 2014

    Enlightnedone

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Had me hooked from page 1..."
    What made the experience of listening to Handbook for an Unpredictable Life the most enjoyable?

    I loved the fact that Rosie narrated the book. Her giving expression and emotion where needed drew me in.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved Rosie's ability too grow from all of her tumultuous experiences. Her never giving up is inspiring.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When she was with Lydia and then those times when she finally started to enjoy her father. (I was always rooting for him)


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh, cry become angry and feel appalled, to only feel her love through out this story.


    Any additional comments?

    This is absolutely one of my very favorite books now. I have always been a fan of Rosie's, now I feel a connection to her... God bless America two times!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosa Riley 05-11-14
    Rosa Riley 05-11-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "IT WAS LIKE LISTENING TO A FRIEND"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Handbook for an Unpredictable Life to be better than the print version?

    I LOVED HEARING ROSIE TELL HER STORY.I FELT A CONNECTION TO HER WITH HER PAIN AND HER JOY.


    What other book might you compare Handbook for an Unpredictable Life to and why?

    MY BELOVED WORLD- SONIA SOTOMAYER. YOU CAN'T LET SOMEONE ELSE DEFINE YOU. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THE SAME EXPERIENCES AS SOMEONE ELSE TO LEARN FROM IT.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    MY HEART FOLLOWED ROSIE FROM THE START TO FINISH


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER " GOD BLESS AMERICA 3 TIMES"," SCANDALOUS"


    Any additional comments?

    I JUST LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Manitowoc, WI, United States 04-18-14
    Mary Manitowoc, WI, United States 04-18-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    15
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    "unbelievable"
    Would you listen to Handbook for an Unpredictable Life again? Why?

    yes, It was very heartwarming and interesting.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Rosie of course. Her courage, sense of humor and her ability to narrate the story. I loved her expressions.


    Which character – as performed by Rosie Perez – was your favorite?

    Her aunt.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Courage


    Any additional comments?

    I can relate a little, because I went to a catholic school

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline Alexandria, Virginia 04-16-14
    Jacqueline Alexandria, Virginia 04-16-14 Member Since 2010
    ratings
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    1
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    "A Heartfelt and Courageous Story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I would recommend this audiobook because if anyone could use a dose of inspiration from a book, this is the one.


    Have you listened to any of Rosie Perez’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I have not listened to Rosie Perez's other audiobooks.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This was definitely an audiobook I could listen to in one sitting because it really captivated me mind, body and soul.


    Any additional comments?

    This is definitely an audiobook to inspire anyone who has or is trying to overcome adversity in their lives. There just as many moments of laughter as there are of tears. After completion of the audiobook, I wanted personally give Rosie a hug and say thank you for telling her story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TAMMY LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 03-28-14
    TAMMY LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 03-28-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    2
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    Story
    "Brave and Honest"
    Would you listen to Handbook for an Unpredictable Life again? Why?

    Yes!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Rosie's honesty and the way her voice can make you feel what she felt.


    What does Rosie Perez bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    For me, listening to Rosie's voice narrating the book allowed me to feel like I was there... when she was 3 arriving at the home and every other place she takes us in her stories.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both! I can relate with Rosie's story in so many regards.


    Any additional comments?

    Thank you for deciding to write this book - you will touch many lives and perhaps even save others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana Sparta, WI, United States 03-28-14
    Dana Sparta, WI, United States 03-28-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    1
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    "amazing"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Handbook for an Unpredictable Life to be better than the print version?

    YES YES YES!!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The entire book from start to finish is wonderful.


    What about Rosie Perez’s performance did you like?

    the whole thing


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    when she saw crazy cindy for the last time. i cried!!


    Any additional comments?

    a must read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa ROSEMOUNT, MN, United States 03-26-14
    Melissa ROSEMOUNT, MN, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    1
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    Story
    "Pleasantly Surprised"
    What did you love best about Handbook for an Unpredictable Life?

    It was interesting to learn about her childhood and life so far. I really commend her on being so strong and trying to rise above the trauma and sadness, through the years. I never knew anything about her, other than she was in a couple of movies that I had watched. Then I saw her on WWHL and knew I'd have to get her book. I definitely see her in a different light now, and will watch the other shows/movies she's in. I think it's refreshing(and brave) when a celebrity can be honest and share their experiences/life lessons/opinions....


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Rosie. (Tia was a close second.)


    Have you listened to any of Rosie Perez’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    None.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES!


    Any additional comments?

    Overall I enjoyed her story, and will recommend it. I hope her life is filled with happier days; she's had to deal with so much heartache in the past.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia Graham, Washington, United States 03-25-14
    Sylvia Graham, Washington, United States 03-25-14 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    "Heartfelt Story"
    If you could sum up Handbook for an Unpredictable Life in three words, what would they be?

    A story that tells many of our stories


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved that she was honest and showed that family was everything and taking time to heal was okay, money wasnt everything to her but finding peace an happiness.


    What does Rosie Perez bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The way her emotions flowed through her as she narrated, you could feel it all as she spoke.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    How as a child she strived to do right and have a good heart. Her love and her spirit was so amazing. Nothing stopped her she just kept striving for something better and stayed true to herself.


    Any additional comments?

    This book spoke to my life on so many different levels, I have already told my friends about it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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