Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Book Review: The Sporty One

By Sara Steven

Twenty-five years ago, The Spice Girls, a girl band that began after five women answered an ad in the paper, released their first single. 'Wannabe' became a hit and from that moment and, almost overnight, Melanie Chisholm went from small town girl to Sporty Spice, part of one of the biggest music groups in history. 

Beginning in her bedroom in the north-west of England dreaming of performing on stage, THE SPORTY ONE follows the meteoric rise of the Melanie and The Spice Girls, from the incredible highs of becoming one of the world’s most recognizable pop stars – playing at Wembley, conquering the BRITs, closing the Olympics – to the difficult lows. For the first time ever, Melanie talks about the pressures of fame, the shaming and bullying she experienced, the struggles she has had with her body image and mental health, and the difficulty of finding yourself when the whole world knows your name. 

THE SPORTY ONE is an incredible story of resilience, hope and how you can find your power.(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I love The Spice Girls! I think many of us who grew up in the 90s can relate to that sentiment. I’d recently seen Melanie compete on Dancing With the Stars and had questioned what she’d been up to and had wondered how her life had turned out, and I feel as though I was left pretty satisfied with that by reading her book, The Sporty One. While so much of it focused on the past, we do get a taste of her life in recent years, and what a life it’s been!

I sometimes get the impression of perfection when I read about celebrities. That they’ve lived a charmed life. That wasn’t the case for Melanie. She had more than humble beginnings and used her performances as a means of escape from the trials she’d had as a child. Melanie’s voice is nothing but honest. She doesn’t sugar coat anything–the relationship she’d had with her parents, and later, her stepfather, or the tough experiences she’d had at school when she wanted nothing more than to just live in harmony with everyone else. She is a self-described peacemaker, and I could really get a sense for that when she describes the way things were for her with other children and later, the teens she went to high school with. It wasn’t an easy life. 

Like any big Spice Girls fan, I eagerly anticipated the chapter that would give us the lowdown on how it all had come to be, and Melanie supplied that, and more. I had no clue that there had been a different young woman who had been chosen initially to join the fab five, before Emma Bunton had come along. I can’t even imagine anyone other than Baby Spice in that role, but it happened, and Melanie talks about that experience. She talks about the arguments and disagreements, the various characteristics of the girls and ultimately, how much they all helmed and paved the way for their own success. The Spice Girls did not have fame handed to them. They had to work for it. 

There were moments in certain chapters where it felt like messages had become redundant, or Melanie’s story repeated here and there, but for any fan, it’s a great book to add to your to-be-read pile! I enjoyed learning more about her, and the other Spice Girls, from someone who actually lived the experience.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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