Warning: EEK! This book review contains spoilers. (You’ve been warned).
I have been a fan of Sara Bareilles since her hit song, “Love Song,” graced the airwaves. Throughout her many years in the music industry, she has been one of the top hidden gems that I can’t stop recommending. Before you even read her book, listen to her music. Trust me. It’ll only enhance your reading experience. Her music carries so much emotion and depth and I wouldn’t know how to try to explain the meaning behind it quite like she can. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song articulates Sara’s music, life and journey in the industry (thus far) perfectly.
Before jumping right into the story, Bareilles’s biography takes us through her musical journey from the very beginning, starting with childhood. The chapters are named after Bareilles’s well-known songs that musically depict what was going on in her life at the time and provide enriching background. Starting with her song “Once Upon Another Time,” she explains a time in her childhood when she was learning how to deal with her parents’ divorce. What was once a solid foundation was no longer visible and Bareilles explains how music helped her deal with it. Navigating your new family dynamic while trying to figure yourself out is difficult. Bareilles does not sugarcoat it.
She goes on and talks about a major heartbreak she had to endure that inspired songs such as “Gravity,” and how “Love Song” was written at the time where she was trying to find her voice again in music. So, no, her lyrics in “Love Song” weren’t just about sticking it to the man—they mean so much more. Sara shows us the skeletons hiding in her closet, left completely exposed and vulnerable in her book.
Though I loved every bit in her book, the chapter “Beautiful Girl” didn’t sit well with me as much as the rest of the book did. Letters are seen as very personal items; ones that you don’t let anyone see. This particular chapter is told through a collection of letters that Bareilles writes to herself. Though I see the angle that it was taking, it kind of broke the fluidity of the book. Since I already built a connection with the style and the way the book was handled and written, the change in style for this one chapter seemed a little off. But nonetheless, her voice remained honest and true.
During the second half of the book, I clung to her words, photographs and song lyrics that were interwoven throughout. I couldn’t help but feel sad it was coming to a close. Bareilles has a way of making you feel confident, heard and seen. I never thought that her book would touch me as much as her music does, but it did.
Throughout the book, Bareilles includes photos that pinpointed specific memories during her rise to fame. She highlights key people who helped her get to where she is now, which only further displayed her humble, generous nature. Her poetic and perfectly articulated lyrics translate perfectly on the stage. Though I’m well-versed in her music, it was very interesting to get a behind-the-scenes glance at her writing process and what it was like coming up with some of the favorite songs I sing along to every day. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song is raw and emotional. Bareilles exposes the some of the greatest and toughest moments in her career thus far, which makes the reading experience that much more intimate and special. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Bareilles. Her music speaks to the outcast, the ones who feel they aren’t heard, and she understands where we come from because she came from the same place.
No biography is filled with as much love, heartache and gratitude quite like this one. If you’ve opened your ears and let Sara Bareilles captivate you with her talent, then I’m sure you’ll want to spare a spot on your bookshelf and reading list for her book. Her music has moved me to tears and her words helped me heal and conquer some of the lowest points in my life. Though the medium of storytelling is different, her book has enriched my life in more ways than one. Sara Bareilles, if you’re reading this, thank you. To all of you readers reading this article, trust me; go to your nearest bookstore and get this book. You’ll thank me later.
Here’s my favorite Sara Bareilles song to help you get in that reading mood: