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Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain [Paperback]

Portia de Rossi
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 July 2011
"I didn't decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Although there was a certain glamour to anorexics, I didn't want to be one. I just wanted to excel in dieting. And weighing in at 80 pounds on 300 calories a day, I was the best little dieter there ever was." In scalding prose, Portia de Rossi reveals the pain and illness that haunted her for decades. She alternately starved herself and binged, putting her life in danger and lying to herself and everyone around her about the depth of her illness. From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to health and happiness, ultimately falling head over heels in love with Ellen DeGeneres. In this remarkable and landmark book, she tells a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857204114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857204110
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Portia de Rossi's memoir reminds us that fame and celebrity is no substitute for feeling comfortable in one's own skin, and unconditional love. Her journey toward self-acceptance is an important lesson for those who struggle with eating disorders, sexual orientation, and confidence. Every girl who dreams of being a model should read this book, to learn that the best judge of beauty is not society -- but self." -- Jodi Picoult "Anyone who's ever wondered why a beautiful, talented young woman would starve herself -- as well as anyone looking for a powerfully-written memoir -- should read Unbearable Lightness. Portia De Rossi tells her story with genuine insight and unflinching honesty. Her plight is horrifying, but De Rossi herself is entirely sympathetic, and by the end, you will cheer her on." --Jeannette Walls "De Rossi is beautiful and famous and married to another celebrity and all of this makes it very easy to roll your eyes and dismiss Unbearable Lightness, her memoir of overcoming an eating disorder. Don't make that mistake: this is quite possibly the best book on the subject ever written. It is riveting and ruthlessly honest. De Rossi is the real deal; she's a fine writer with a sharp mind and tremendous substance who has turned in a rich, layered book of remarkable courage, power and significance. I have no doubt that her story will serve as life-changing inspiration for many young women currently struggling with their own food issues. But the book's general excellence makes it a fascinating and inspiring read for anyone." --Augusten Burroughs "There are passages in this book that I had to read through my fingers, and others that made me laugh aloud. UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS is breathtakingly honest, brutal and beautiful." --Jonathan Safran Foer 'a courageous, startlingly honest account...It really is an amazing read; beautifully writen, it vividly captures the alarming, self-destructive thought processes that drive anorexic behaviour' Diva Magazine, Jan 2011 'a surprisingly open memoir...Her book is a gripping story about dealing with the combined shame, as she saw it, of gayness and fatness' Times Magazine, Nov 2010 'This is the moving, often heartbreaking story of how the actress came to terms with her body and her sexuality, finding the strength to overcome her fears and create a life that nourished both her body and her soul' Scottish Daily Record

About the Author

Portia de Rossi is an Australian-born actress and model. She currently resides is Los Angeles with her wife Ellen DeGeneres. This is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAVE BOOK 22 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down, a brave, brave account of living a life with a eating disorder. Portia goes to hell and back, a must read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so pretty 1 Feb 2011
A Kid's Review
Format:Hardcover
I picked up this book being curious about Portia de Rossi of ALly McBeal fame. What I found was someone totally misunderstood who what nearly the opposite of what she portrayed on the outside. Having no experience of eating disorders personally, I found her story honest, un-prettified and eye opening. That she was in such a state physically and that yet in her hollywood world it passed as normal is beyond me. It is an enlightening read.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touchingly raw account 13 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover
As someone who has struggled with weight issues for most of my life, I found Portia de Rossi's memoir both emotional and unsettling. She so accurately portrays the experiences of anorexia - the isolation and the feelings of total and utter imprisonment - that I was transported back to a terrible time in my life. The best news is that this book has made me determined never to revisit that time ever again. This is an account filled with sadness, but also hope. I would recommend it to anybody who has ever suffered from, or loved anybody with, eating problems.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-crafted and brutally honest 26 Feb 2011
Format:Hardcover
I don't really write reviews online as I often think that I would really have much to say other than a sentence or two, but I feel that others (like myself) may judge this book if they aren't into biographies, particularly biographies of 'celebrities' and not your stereotypical stars (like Marilyn and co). I knew of and liked Portia through Arrested Development but never thought that she'd done enough to merit an autobiography before this.

I bought this book for my sister and only picked it up after it was left lying around in the house. Engaging from the beginning, this book is intelligently and thoughtfully written. It doesn't feel as formulaic as the standard autobiography format, and the inserted photographs only serve to emphasize Portia's mental and physical decline as her dramatic health problems are listed beside studio photographs. The story is also told in the less standard childhood/fame route. Instead Portia seamlessly interweaves recollections from her childhood and links them with the trials she faced as a grown woman. She discusses her crippling obsession with calorie counting (and her food binges), her confusion about her sexuality (not about being straight but about how to be gay) and the pressures she felt from a young age about her image and her self-worth. The story is told with such honesty and insight that I couldn't help but feel touched when she finally reached a state of self-acceptance, and it has allowed me to be angry (again) about the mass media approach towards beauty and feminism. A starkly honest story which deserves to be read. This is a beautiful book and I plan to buy my own copy, treasure it, and if I ever have a daughter, I will ask her to read it. This book is an education in self-esteem, eating disorders, and happiness. I can't recommend it enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible 9 Jan 2011
By Bea
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It took me quite a while to sit down and write a review for this, simply because I struggled to find the words to accurately describe how incredible this book is.

Portia de Rossi's first book is eloquently written, phenomenally brave and astoundingly truthful. I did not put it down once while reading it. I was unprepared for Portia's complete and utter honesty throughout, she doesn't hide any detail she deems significant to her journey, relaying all her experienced emotions no matter how illogical or crazy they may seem. This book really helps you to understand the mentality behind eating disorders, in a way I didn't expect, and I am in utter awe of Portia after finishing this. She is a brave woman, with an unbelievable inner strength to get through all that she has, and I imagine this book will help many people.

I honestly cannot reccomend this highly enough!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written Memoir 27 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain deals with the ever-present issues women deal with concerning self-worth. Portia describes in great detail her history of disordered eating habits that led to her dealing with anorexia and bulimia and how she struggled to finally overcome it. It is beautifully written book that shows an insight into an anorexics mind (without being triggering) and is highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 26 Jan 2011
By Zob
Format:Hardcover
What a wonderful book, I couldn't put it down. Portia shares her story with the reader in such a way as you feel you were on the journey with her. Heartfelt words with a beautiful ending
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST READ 9 Dec 2010
Format:Hardcover
literally didn't put it down, was finished with it within a day and a half of it coming through the door! This is the first approach toward the issue of eating disorders i've seen that doesn't feel patronising, but enables you to go on a journey with someone who truely understand the issues that you face. Portia's been the first person to really capture that sense of glee and excitment you get when that scale drops another fraction, she is the first person, to my knowledge, who's been unafraid to honestly lay bare the almost bipolar aspect of having an eating disorder. Taking you from the humiliating feeling of being unsuitable for public viewing right through to extact sense of joy when you're at your 'perfect weight', and the almost exhibitionist factor it brings! Through doing this she uncovers exactly how dangerous and unmaintable it is to live with a eating disorder. Either you're miserable and literally feel like your not worthy of human interation or your happy with yourself but at the cost of cutting out family, causing massive sorrow and literally killing yourself. No holding back, this books states it as it is, either get better or you'll die one way or another.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbearable Lightness Review
Amazing story and totally relatable for anyone, it's the best book I've read in years! I would recommend it to anyone, especially teenage girls.
Published 15 days ago by Moira
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Portia really gives a great look into her life through the though times in her life.
Nothing is hidden in this book. It's very honest and well written. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Kristín Guðbrandsdóttir
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
Fantastic book I could not put it down!! I suffered from an eating disorder and sexuality confusion so was really great to read...
Published 1 month ago by Francesca Howie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This book gives a wonderful insight into fame, struggles with body image and the truth behind those skinny celebrities the media love to portray as having perfect bodies (and us... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gem2010
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
An honest and well articulated memoir. I found this book explained many things I often felt/thought but couldn't quite express. Thank you Portia
Published 1 month ago by maxine
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully real
Sometimes you read a book and know that its truthful and touching. This is that. No cheese fame crap. Just reality in the way it effects some
Published 1 month ago by H L DOERR
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought as Gift
Bought as a gift, reader found book very good, and enlightening, a real insight into Portia's story, and her battle with eating disorder.
Published 1 month ago by Shelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener
Very good book certainly draws anorexia in it's cold light. Would recommend any teenager to read this. Arrived very promptly
Published 1 month ago by Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
I didn't really know what to expect with this book, but I was pleasantly suprised. I found myself reading page after page, unable to put down the kindle. Read more
Published 2 months ago by JMG
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, vunrable and honest
Outstanding - I didn't want the book to end. It's an emotional roller coaster right to the end. Well written.
Published 2 months ago by Andrea
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