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Unbearable Lightness Audiobook

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

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Publisher's Summary

“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . .”

Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work - first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

©2010 Portia de Rossi; 2010 Simon & Schuster Audio

What the Critics Say

“Breathtakingly honest, brutal and beautiful.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)

“Possibly the best book on the subject ever written. De Rossi is the real deal, a fine writer with a sharp mind and substance. This rich, layered book of remarkable courage, power, and significance will serve as life-changing inspiration for many.” (Augusten Burroughs)

“De Rossi tells her story with genuine insight and unflinching honesty. You will cheer her on.” —Jeannette Walls

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (628 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ann Melbourne, FL, United States 06-07-11
    Ann Melbourne, FL, United States 06-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Painfully slooooow moving and repetitive . . ."

    I am halfway through and really wish I hadn't used a credit on this book. I have given it two stars only because aside from this book, I really like Portia De Rossi and her wife and would have simply felt bad giving it one star.

    I don't want to sound crass or unsympathetic here, but I want to be honest. Portia De Rossi has clearly had a tough go of it and I sympathize. She seems to have found peace and happiness in her current life and I was looking forward to hearing about her journey. Unfortunately, at nearly five hours in the story has been so painfully repetitive that I am considering skipping chapters (I've never done this before, good or bad I like to experience a complete book) to see if the subject matter will ever change even slightly. I don't think its spoiling anything to say that up to this point all she has talked about is her struggle to lose weight and her low self esteem. Not to minimize the importance of these topics, but I get it, you strictly count calories, judge yourself harshly and unrealistically and feel like everyone else does too. I feel for you but the reader doesn't need a detailed account of EVERY SINGLE TIME you felt this way. Clearly she hasn't written about every thought she had during this time, but that is absolutely how it feels. At the halfway point I literally don't feel like the biography has progressed beyond the first our of listening.

    I will finish the book because, well I used a credit on it and feel I should. But I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Sorry Portia.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristin Indianapolis, IN 09-12-16
    Kristin Indianapolis, IN 09-12-16 Member Since 2016
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    5
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    "Stunning"

    This is such a beautiful book. It drew me in and really held my attention. She really understands her story and tells it in a wonderful, multi-layered way. Very moving.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    johanna NEW YORK, NY, United States 09-07-16
    johanna NEW YORK, NY, United States 09-07-16 Member Since 2015
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    "i loved it...i'm glad it found me."

    I loved it I'm glad it found me. it found me by change I was watching an interview with Portia knew who she was but didint know much about her. This is a fairytale with many struggles along the way. she is brave.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tonisha 08-19-16
    Tonisha 08-19-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Very relatable"

    I love how she tackled body dysmorphia, bulimia, and anorexia so honestly. this was very relatable and enlightening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-26-16 Member Since 2016
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    4
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    "Portia de Rossi lets you see inside her mind and beautiful soul."

    This book is amazing! Portia de Rossi lets you into her mind as a sick anorexic, the little girl that longs to be "accepted" and trying to live up to modeling/actress standards in Hollywood. Listening to her read about her journey feels like she's right there with you just talking to you about her story. I love it and anyone else that takes a listen will love it as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    readermonkee 04-17-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Must read for anyone who's ever struggled with food"

    As an eating disorder survivor, I related to so much of Portia's story. Anyone who has ever used and abused food or their bodies because they didn't feel like they were enough will find inspiration in Portia's journey and recovery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane 04-13-16
    Diane 04-13-16
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    1
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    "So boring and whiney"

    There is no substance to this book. She just whines about the same shit over and over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JSS612 03-29-16
    JSS612 03-29-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Great story, great writing."

    There was nothing about this book I didn't enjoy. Not only her harrowing story which is of course interesting to see it through but the writing and reading are so beautiful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Sakai 01-25-16 Member Since 2016
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    3
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    "A candid look at Anorexia and Bulimia"

    Having suffered from an eating disorder myself, I can tell you that this is a very candid look into the life of someone who is suffering from one. The book gives you a very honest look into the very real and, for the lack of a better word, crazy, thoughts, one has when encountering food. If you need are feeling alone in your recovery, or want to help someone recover, definitely pick up this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhi 12-19-15
    Rhi 12-19-15 Member Since 2016

    Rhiannon

    ratings
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    3
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    "Lovely. Lightly heavy."
    Where does Unbearable Lightness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is enlightening and heavy-hearted. It is an excellent book!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbearable Lightness?

    Sheesh. I listen when I drive... that's tough.


    Have you listened to any of Portia de Rossi’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no. this is very well-done.


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

    It did make me giggle and also cry.


    Any additional comments?

    I think this book would, could and must help young and not so young folks realize that anorexia and bulimia is a real issue and they are not alone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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