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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 (617 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Christine TOPEKA, KS, United States 02-04-13
    Christine TOPEKA, KS, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2016
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    "An inspiration for all"
    What did you love best about Unbearable Lightness?

    I found myself relating to de Rossi's struggle...even though I've never suffered from anorexia


    What about Portia de Rossi’s performance did you like?

    The fact that de Rossi narrated makes the story all the more personal


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who has struggled with addiction, self image/worth or belonging should read this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystyna Charleston 10-03-12
    Krystyna Charleston 10-03-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Good story great lesson"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Great book about the striking truth of struggle with self-actualization under the pressure of the society.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delvatje Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 08-07-12
    Delvatje Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 08-07-12
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    "More hope?"
    Any additional comments?

    While I was pleased to hear Portia narrate her own book, I found the book frustrating. Instead of being a memoir of recovery, the book becomes an almost encyclopedic manual for how to have an Eating Disorder. She goes into minute detail on how she managed to become an 82 pound waif and spends 20+ chapters on the minutiae of her ED. Her recovery is touched on only briefly in the epilogue. While the book does end on a high note, I am concerned that young people reading this may get more ideas on how to become ill in this way than inspiration to be well. That said, I applaud Portia's bravery and honesty.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08-04-12
    Simone Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08-04-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Not cheery, but I loved it"
    Any additional comments?

    I fell in love with her listening to this. My only complaint would be that her recovery doesn't start until the epilogue, I would have liked to hear more about the upward trajectory that followed the descent she describes in the book. I hope she'll write another book, no matter what it is about I would read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen ROSCOMMON, MI, United States 07-30-12
    Karen ROSCOMMON, MI, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2016

    Karen of Northern Michigan

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    "Interesting"

    Portia is very candid and honest about her eating disorder in this book. Quite amazing what people do to themselves for the sake of being thin.. She's such a beautiful woman, it's a shame she felt she wasn't good enough being a normal size... Great story but a little depressing.. I just wanted to reach through the pages and shake her, saying, good grief woman.. you are gorgeous.. stop killing yourself to be so thin....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 07-21-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Better Than I Thought It Would Be"

    I was never a fan of Portia DeRossi on Ally McBeal, but thought she was hilarious on Arrested Development, so I was mildly interested in her story. I was quite surprised how I could not stop listening. She is so honest about everything - more than just her eating disorder but her family, her childhood, her insecurities - things many of us would have a hard time talking about even with our best friends. It was also interesting to hear how she ended up being successful in probably that last field for which she was suitable. It's amazing she pulled through and could write such a soul-bearing book, considering how she started out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    edel Ireland 07-08-12
    edel Ireland 07-08-12

    LittleBookFairy

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    "The Struggle To Stay Thin"
    Would you listen to Unbearable Lightness again? Why?

    Yes I would. It was a tough subject that normally would not interest me to hear again but when told with Portia's wonderful voice it becomes a very touching account about a very hard time in her life.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Portia's honesty. Portia in no way made this seem glamourous. You are shown exactly what she went through. I can understand now why this is an illness. The struggles she went through and how strict she was with herself were mind blowing.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Yogurt part and the part of exercising while at work and trying not to ruin her make-up It showed how strict she was with herself .


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

    The Strength Of A Woman.. One Woman who fought the war on eating disorders and won.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Casper, Wy, United States 05-22-12
    Rachel Casper, Wy, United States 05-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Not unbearable listening"
    What made the experience of listening to Unbearable Lightness the most enjoyable?

    I liked that Portia read her own words. That is always a great thing to experience.


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

    Yes! I hated to not get to know more. I loved how honest she was.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. MccLure Houston, TX 05-15-12
    T. MccLure Houston, TX 05-15-12 Member Since 2016

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Beautiful"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Beautiful, honest, powerful


    What did you like best about this story?

    Portia has a way of taking you right there; every moment. It's a story about being human. One of the best momoirs in recent memory.


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

    N/A


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

    I think I cried a few times, but mostly it just really hit home on so many levels.Everyone who's ever felt, less than...needs to read this book. It's a story of universal truths and helps connect us all.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 04-24-12
    Linda 04-24-12 Member Since 2016

    My reviews are rather simple but only because I want to convey my impressions of a story. I leave summaries to the publisher. LOVE Audible!

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    "Tragic, Touching, Triumphant"

    Beautifully written and beautifully narrated. I felt like I was sitting across the table from Portia de Rossi as she told me about her life - honestly. She pays an enormous price to live as she feels others want her to live. To be what society says we "should" be. It is a peek into what we envision as "the perfect celebrity life" and the reality behind the smoke and mirrors. Life under the microscope - hmmm...

    Months after listening to this poignant story, I still find myself thinking about it and am awed by the courage that Portia de Rossi displayed writing and sharing this truth about herself. I also wanted to throw away every single diet book I've ever bought!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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