STARRED REVIEW
June 2015

The long road from the Midwest to mega-success

By Gretchen Carlson
Blonde, svelte, former Miss America, musical prodigy, successful news anchor on national network with a hot husband: I was, quite honestly, prepared to hate (or at least strongly resent) Gretchen Carlson. But darn it if she didn’t charm me from the first page of Getting Real, her memoir of growing up wholesome in Minnesota.
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Blonde, svelte, former Miss America, musical prodigy, successful news anchor on national network with a hot husband: I was, quite honestly, prepared to hate (or at least strongly resent) Gretchen Carlson. But darn it if she didn’t charm me from the first page of Getting Real, her memoir of growing up wholesome in Minnesota. 

Carlson, who hosts her own show on Fox News called “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson,” grew up in a loving, devout Lutheran family. She emerges as a violin virtuoso by the time she’s 7, paving the way for a lifetime of larger-than-life achievements. She attended Stanford University before taking time away to train for, compete in—and win—the Miss America pageant at 21. 

But Carlson’s saving grace is that she isn’t perfect, and she hits bumps in her road. Overweight throughout junior high and high school, she recalls being mortified when a sales lady called out that she needed a bigger size “for the chubby girl in the dressing room.” As she launches her reporting career, she loses broadcasting jobs and is the victim of sexual intimidation by men in power.

Carlson is frank and open about her struggles (“I was so confused about who I was and what I would face as I moved forward in what appeared to be a really scary world,” she writes about a top television exec trying to force himself on her in the back of a car). But mostly, she conveys a steely determination and clear-headed sense of self-worth that is inspiring and refreshing. She is unapologetic about her drive for success, pursuing ever bigger career goals while raising two small children. She even displays an intriguing feminist streak. 

Carlson may have pageant looks and a megawatt career, but in this memoir, she does indeed get real.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Getting Real

Getting Real

By Gretchen Carlson
Viking
ISBN 9780525427452

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