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Pride Week Book Review: Me by Elton John

Staff Book Review: Me by Elton John

Me by Elton John book coverReviewed by Sue Petrofsky, Library Assistant

Elton John’s memoir Me is a tale of success and excess, tempered by a rough childhood, numerous health issues, and a career that almost ended before it began, partly due to stage fright.

Born Reginald Dwight, John was caught between two parents who fought constantly when together. Although his mother loved music and encouraged him to play piano as a child, his father was in the Royal Air Force and absent from the household for long stretches of time. When together, his parents fought about how their son was being raised, causing him to retreat to his room and become obsessive about keeping everything neat and orderly in order to gain control of his life.

At the age of 11, Reggie’s piano teacher recommended him to the Royal Academy of Music in London, which he attended for five years. As his career began to progress as a keyboard player in a band, Reggie Dwight decided to adopt a more glamorous stage name, filching Elton and John from two musician friends, to become Elton John.

Me documents John’s early struggles as a writer. Although a prolific composer, John struggled with lyrics. His meeting equally struggling lyricist Bernie Taupin through his producer proved to be the spark that eventually ignited John’s career. During this time John also narrowly escaped a marriage, just as he was learning about his sexuality and what being gay meant.

The book is full of details that a true fan will enjoy but that also slow down the story. Once John reaches stardom, however, the story takes off, detailing his colorful life, including the good times and the bad (addiction, suicide attempts, cancer). The turning point in his life came in the mid-1980s, when he became involved in the AIDS crisis by befriending Indiana teen Ryan White, who acquired HIV from a blood transfusion.

I found Me well written and quite an emotional roller coaster. Having survived everything from alcoholism to prostate cancer, Elton John’s final evolution to a gay married family man is a worthwhile redemptive story.

Me is available to reserve for Curbside Pickup from Herrick Library. To make a reservation for this title or any other:

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