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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by Cara Mentzel, with a foreword from her big sister, Idina Menzel. Also included is a bonus interview and an exclusive duet of the sisters performing the song "Never Never Land".

Voice Lessons is the story of one younger sister growing up in the shadow of a larger-than-life older sister - looking up to her, wondering how they were alike and how they were different, and ultimately learning how to live her own life and speak in her own voice on her own terms. As Cara Mentzel studied, explored, married, gave birth (twice), and eventually became an elementary school teacher, she watched her sister, Idina Menzel, from the wings and gives listeners a front row seat to the opening nights of Rent and Wicked, a seat at the Tonys, and a place on the red carpet when her sister taught millions more, as the voice of Queen Elsa in the animated musical Frozen, to "Let It Go".

Voice Lessons is the story of sisters - sisters with pigtails, sisters with boyfriends and broken hearts, sisters as mothers and aunts, sisters as teachers and ice queens, sisters as allies and confidantes. As Cara puts it, "My big sister is Tony Award-winning, gravity-defying, 'Let It Go'-singing Idina Menzel, who has received top billing on Broadway marquees, who has performed for Barbra Streisand and President Obama, at the Super Bowl and at the Academy Awards. The world knows her as Idina Menzel, but I call her Dee." Voice Lessons is their story.

©2017 Cara Mentzel, foreword copyright Idina Menzel (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

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  • Mei
  • Calgary, Alberta Canada
  • 10-23-17

It's like spending a weekend with a new friend

There’s a certain human connection that happens when you hear a personal story spoken aloud, and that made this memoir even better than if I had read a hard copy myself. Maybe it’s the honesty and inflection behind the words, and the Long Island accent that is emphasized in certain parts. Other audiobook bonuses are the foreward read by Idina (Dee), the interview with both sisters at the end, and the duet that they sing of “Never Never Land” – from Peter Pan, which is referenced in the book as the first musical theatre performance that the sisters ever saw.

Cara Mentzel, younger sister of “Broadway supernova” Idina was (relatively) quieter and (seemingly) shy to the average observer, but through her own words and voice we get to know her spunk and wit as she recalls tales that span from their childhood (think little orphan Annie and Snoopy Sno Cone Machines), to the present. The book tells of their journey as sisters (so far) through marriages, careers, and finally - their shared experience on the Oscars red carpet. I loved that Cara had hoped Dee would invite her as her Oscars date, but didn’t want to ask; her recollection of everything to do with attending the Oscars was so humourous because Cara was thinking what you or I would probably be thinking in the same situation. One of my favourite passages was about deciding which dress to wear, and the tongue-in-cheek line: “Luckily, the vote for the periwinkle dress was unanimous, so I didn’t have to worry about showing up at the Oscars like I thought I was going to the Golden Globes. How embarrassing would that have been!”

‘Voice Lessons’ explores the complexity of a sibling relationship like any other, with the added fun of a glimpse here and there into the celebrity life. The perspective of this story told by Idina’s little sister (and biggest fan) is a unique one, and those who were kids in the 70’s and 80’s will relate to all the pop culture references. You don’t have to be a die-hard Idina fan to like this book (though if you are, it’s an obvious must-read!). If you enjoy stories about family, and you’re curious about what it’s like to live a ‘normal’ life with a ‘normal’ job, while the sibling you grew up with is frequently in the media with hit plays, hit movies, and hit songs, then this book is for you!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love the Mentzel Sisters!

Absolutely loved this intimate insight into Cara Mentzel and her sister, Idina Menzel’s, life. It’s honest, raw and a lovely story about sisters.
I decided to read it wanting a little preview into the fab Idina’s life, but quickly found myself wrapped up in Cara’s story. If you love Idina, you will love this book and soon love her sister Cara just as much!

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A sister’s must read!!

I identified with each of these women at different times in the book. Such a real story of sibling love and life. Great book!

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An honest view of sisterhood

I met Cara Mentzel long before I knew she was Idina's sister, as she worked some sort of magic with my little girls, and turned them into readers. It's interesting to me that, in her presence, I was verklempt, and inspired, and I wanted to cheer her on, not unlike the feelings she had for her sister. Cara walks us, step-by-step, through her own life, and Idina's, describing the many lessons she learned of life and sisterhood. She takes a frank and honest look at what it's like to look up to someone your whole life, darting in and out of the unwilling shadow cast by that person. More than that, she describes the ordinary lives of the people around her, the insecurities we all experience, and the ambitions she had for her family and career. She does this all while narrating Idina's extraordinary career from the inside out, giving us a rare glimpse into a star's private life. She is certainly "the writer" in the family, and so clearly and simply tells this most compelling and original story. This isn't your average biography, and it's certainly not written by someone who is anything but brilliant in her own right. In closing, I too had an older sister, in whose footsteps I tried to walk, and in whose critical eye I was never quite enough. She was a beautiful, angelic, mystery to me. Walking through this lesson plan with Cara, I understand my sister a little better.