Biography Has Great Narrative

Cover of “#GIRLBOSS”

I have a list of books I would like to read that is about a mile long. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, I am always looking for new stories or pursuing information on some random or bizarre topic. I spend more money on books than food and have asked for more every holiday or birthday.  

My mother will often give me a book I have never heard of, despite my never-ending list. When she first started doing this, I remember being confused. I would think: “Why would I want this book? This doesn’t seem like something I would be interested in.” 

Despite my confusion, I always learn something from the books my mother chooses. Every book teaches me what stylistic choices I like and dislike and furthers my understanding of writing overall. Most recently, this happened with “#GIRLBOSS,” an autobiography by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of a popular online clothing boutique. 

Upon receiving this book, I was frustrated. I expected this would be another autobiography that read like a self-help book on how to get rich. I didn’t want to hear about some easy way to make money, and I definitely don’t want to hear it from some woman I had never heard of before reading this book.

I also thought the title was terrible. I didn’t want to read anything that had a hashtag in the title. It seemed like Amoruso was trying to appeal to younger people and failing dramatically. 

Despite my misgivings, I tried to read the first few chapters. After all, my mother has a knack for picking up the book I need, even if I don’t initially enjoy it.

Surprisingly, I loved Amoruso’s narrative. Despite owning a multi-million-dollar company, she never sounds pretentious. Amoruso is brash and funny; she jokes about the rough parts of her life. At times, it seems like Amoruso doesn’t care if she offends her readers; this is her story, and she wants to tell it her way. 

Amoruso often insists on telling her story with brutal honesty. She is candid about her experiences with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). She admits she lived in a closet under the stairs for a few years, and that she routinely routed through dumpsters and shoplifted. She admits this humorously without condoning this behavior. After expecting Amoruso to paint herself as a relatable role model, it’s refreshing to see she is not glossing over parts of her life to fit that narrative. 

However, Amoruso’s brash style and honest attitude occasionally lead to crude territory. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone offended by R-rated language. 

Beyond Amoruso’s humorous narration and honesty, I also liked the novel’s “Portrait of a #Girlboss.” About every 25 pages, Amoruso includes a short excerpt from a female role model, like Christene Barberich, a former editor-in-chief of Refinery29, or Leandra Medine, a well-known author. These portraits gave me a plethora of female role models to research and learn from. 

Although this book has a lot of good aspects, there were still some things I disliked. 

“#GIRLBOSS” includes a famous quote at least every three pages. There are one or two at the beginning of every chapter and at the beginning of almost every section within that chapter. Famous quotes can be incredibly powerful when used correctly, but it just seems overdone here. It also distracts from Amoruso’s narrative.

I also disliked the titles of the chapter and sections. Titles like “How I Became a #GIRLBOSS” and “So You Got a Job? Awesome! Now Keep It!” seem disinteresting and shallow. As I predicted, some of Amoruso’s gimmicks are clearly trying to pander to a younger, “cooler” audience.

Also, as much as Amoruso claims she is not a role model in the introduction, she routinely offers advice about anything and everything. While I understand she is trying to impart what she has learned from her experiences, it often drags on to the point of excess. I much prefer the strictly biographical chapters of the book. 

Overall, this book was unique. I would have enjoyed “#GIRLBOSS” much more if Amoruso hadn’t resorted to clunky stylistic choices like frequent quotes, cheesy chapter titles and disjointed sections. What bothers me most is that Amoruso has had such an interesting life: she didn’t need these awkward extras to make her work a bestseller. 

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone looking for a smooth autobiography with a clean narrative, but if you are willing to endure Amoruso’s stylistic gimmicks and unwieldy advice, you will find something of interest in “#GIRLBOSS.” 

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