Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life

Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780358423881. $28. MEMOIR
In O’Connor’s unapologetic and honest memoir, the pop star who wanted to be punk revisits her past. She acknowledges that her memories recorded here aren’t complete, which she says is due to her lack of presence in her own life. After being abused by her mother as a child in Dublin, and arrested as a teen for shoplifting, O’Connor says she eventually found escape in music, particularly her brother’s Bob Dylan albums. She started performing with local Irish bands, then moved to London and in 1990 became a major star with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” O’Connor says that fame was not something she sought, and here she is forthright about her struggles with celebrity and mental illness. She says she had been called to activism when she became best known for ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992, in an attempt to bring to light the Catholic Church’s cover-up of ongoing child abuse by priests. This memoir also dissects her complicated relationships with men, motherhood, and religion and recounts a bizarre evening with Prince; the final chapters tell the stories behind each of her albums and her songwriting process.
VERDICT Much like her songs, O’Connor’s writing is haunting, sometimes mystifying, and transcendent. Her fans will revel in her words, while her critics may reevaluate their opinions.
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