Books & Writing

The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra: Book Review

The Elephants in My Backyard

Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada
Pages: 288
Publish date: November 8, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

I am very picky when it comes to memoirs written by celebrities. I find they’re often written by actors/musicians whose fame is on the decline and they’re grasping at straws to remain in the limelight. Or on the other hand, are written by actors/musicians who are super “in” right now, so publishers want to make money off them. I am SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY that this memoir is neither of those things. Rajiv Surendra has a story to tell that is both entertaining and emotional, and had me hooked from the beginning.

Most people know Rajiv as Kevin G – the rapping mathele from Mean Girls. He writes very deeply and descriptively, introducing the reader to his emotional family life growing up, then how he got into acting, and finally, what I find to be the core of the book: how the lead role in Life of Pi was written for him, and how he spent years researching the role – throwing his entire soul and purpose into becoming Pi in the book’s film adaptation.

Going to India, learning to swim, wanting to get entirely into the character of Yann Martel’s Pi – I found Rajiv’s dedication to his craft and to the role something that really drew me in. I am a huge fan of Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, and was really blown away by the movie adaptation, so I understand how Rajiv could get so swept up in the belief that he was meant to play this character.

As you may have noticed, I’m referring to the author by his first name and not the more formal, surname option. I guess I believe that once you have the very detailed image of a person’s genitals in your mind, you’re basically on a first-name basis (swimming lessons chapter – if that explains anything). One of the many things I didn’t think I’d learn about in this book, but alas. Rajiv gets very personal and honest with his readers, creating a very intimate author/reader relationship, which I think makes a memoir really special.

This isn’t just another celeb memoir that was written to sell books. It was written because Rajiv Surendra had a fantastic story to tell. His writing is captivating. He tells some funny stories, some more emotional or heart-breaking stories, but it all comes together beautifully.

The Elephants in My Backyard is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

 

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