By: Felicity Britton
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2103
William McKinley High School’s glee club was loaded with a bunch of outcasts. Where else would you find an overweight diva, a “super-talented nerd,” a gay loner, a wheelchair-bound boy, and a jock? Throw in a smattering of other losers and what do you come up with? Gleeof course. If you’ve ever watched the series, you surely have your favorites among the cast and undoubtedly look forward to seeing them in the next episode. Perhaps all of us can relate to one or another of them as we travel through high school or recall our days there. Co-creator and executive producer, Ryan Murphy, claims that he “wanted to give voices to people who don’t have voices.”
If you’ve wowed over the glee club’s renditions of songs such as Joanne Osborne’s “One of Us” or “The Only Exception” by Paramore, you’ll definitely want to know about the people behind the voices. In this book you’ll become intimately acquainted with the cast of Glee, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Naya Rivera, Jane Lynch, and Matthew Morrison. You’ll learn when and how they started out in show business, what motivates them, how they developed their characters, what hopes they have for the future, and more.
The writers attempted to portray the group as young people with “strength, vulnerability, grace, awkwardness, anger, humor, hope, and talent--traits much like those of the real-life actors who play them.” Dianna Agron felt the sting of rejection early on in spite of the fact that she was a talented dancer. Amber Riley came from a family “working in creative fields,” but she had a good case of nerves when it came to auditioning. Lea Michele was absolutely, totally insecure about her looks when she was a teen and admired those beautiful blonde beauties even though she was working on Broadway.
Chris Colfer was one of those kids who “was overweight, with braces, freckles, and his distinctive high-pitched voice.” He figured if he dieted, which he did, things would change for him. No such thing. Instead he simply felt “like a skinny loser instead of a fat loser.” Get the picture? Each cast member portrayed in this book has their own personal story to offer up and at times it just wasn’t a pretty picture. Dreams do come true and when auditions for Glee began Ryan Murphy “found” something perfect about them for the characters they would portray. Even Jane Lynch, whose character wanted to destroy the glee club, has a very interesting story of her own!
This is a fascinating look at the story behind the making of the series of Glee and the cast members. Even young people who aren’t familiar with the show will be interested in checking out the series after reading about the Glee cast. These mini-biographies could be from anywhere U.S.A. except for the fact that the cast ended up becoming stars. Of course the message they all appear to want to impart to their fans and readers of this book is that in spite of everything they never gave up on their dreams. Talent and perseverance has kept them on the radar, a place where they’ll be for some time to come. There are photographs galore scattered throughout these pages along with period USA today stories that touch on Glee. There are numerous informative sidebars that add to the reader’s teen experience. In the back of the book is an index, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: If you're wild about Glee, you're sure to enjoy meeting the cast and listening to their stories!