Book Review – “The Only Pirate at the Party”

The Story:
[From GoodReads]:
Electronic and dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling shares her unconventional journey in an inspiring memoir filled with the energy, persistence, and humor that have helped her successfully pursue a passion outside the box. A classically trained musician gone rogue, Lindsey Stirling is the epitome of independent, millennial-defined success: after being voted off the set of America’s Got Talent, she went on to amass more than ten million social media fans, record two full-length albums, release multiple hits with billions of YouTube views, and tour sold-out venues across the world.

Lindsey is not afraid to be herself. In fact, it’s her confidence and individuality that have propelled her into the spotlight. But the road hasn’t been easy. After being rejected by talent scouts, music reps, and eventually national television, Lindsey forged her own path, step by step. Here, for the first time, she shares every triumph and trial she has faced until now. Beginning in a humble yet charmed childhood, this book follows Lindsey through a humorous adolescence, to her life as a struggling musician, through her personal struggles with anorexia, and finally all the way to her success as a world-class entertainer. Lindsey’s magnetizing story is at once remarkable and universal—a testimony that there is no singular recipe for success. And a witness that, despite what people may say, sometimes it’s okay to be The Only Pirate at the Party.

My Take: I’ll proudly admit to being a big fan of Ms. Stirling’s music, but I didn’t discover her on YouTube or as a contestant on America’s Got Talent. Instead, I noticed her debut album when it was showcased in iTunes’ new albums listings upon its release and decided to check it out on a whim. The EDM fan in me immediately connected to the dance/electronic beats and the violin fan in me adored the mingling of the strings. On paper, and even outloud, EDM with violin sounds like a weird combinaiton but it’s a good kind of weird and I loved it! Hence, I was hooked and I’ve been a fan ever since. So naturally when I discovered that Stirling had released a memoir, I was intrigued to check it out.

Normally, I’m not a fan of celebrity memoirs mainly because there can be too much egoism injected into the writing. Likewise, I feel like such books are merely marketing tools designed to snag new fans and give current fans something to add to their collection (as well as line the artist’s pockets). Thankfully, The Only Pirate at the Party (and how cute and awesomely fun is that title, by the way?) avoids these traps. This memoir doesn’t feel like it exists simply to make a dollar off of her fans nor does it feel like it’s just a way to brand herself without offering anything of real value to readers. Instead, this memoir simply seeks to tell Stirling’s story as a means of inspiration with the implied hope that, if her story has encourages other budding musicians to take wing, then it was work putting ink to paper. From a reading standpoint, this reads quickly as Stirling takes readers through her childhood and teen years and spends a great deal of time focusing on how she became her own self-made artist (as well as displaying unabashed love for her fans).

Stirling’s tone is warm and congenial, as if she’s an old friend just sitting down and chatting with you. This was the first thing that stood out to me and I really enjoyed this book because of it. Her approach is heart-warming and some of her anecdotes are genuinely hilarious. Never once does she assume a condescending tone or take cheap shots at haters and trolls. Instead, she stays classy and simply tells her story and rise to stardom as it happened in her own words, not sugarcoating it but not using her book as a platform to demonize those who disbelieved in her dream. She smartly lets those sleeping dogs lie. Also, don’t expect to run into any scandalous encounters here – Ms. Stirling herself admits that she’s never drank or used drugs and any of her relationships that she chronicles here are chaste, so sex-fueled escapades are also non-existent here.

Instead, readers are treated to a glimpse inside the mind of a young musical artist who wanted to create her own music in her way, on her terms, and brand it unique to her. In an industry that pushes conformity, Stirling has held her own and this memoir does a perfect job outlining that in a warm, grateful fashion. It’s clear Stirling doesn’t suffer from diva syndrome as she’s quick to acknowledge persons who helped her become the young lady and musician she is today, namely her family, friends, and behind-the-scenes folks who make it all possible.

I also deeply  admired Stirling’s willingness to discuss her struggles with an eating disorder. She herself admits she isn’t going to spend a lot of time in the book dwelling on it, and she doesn’t, but what she does share is poignant. As a whole, her struggle and story serve as encouragement to other persons who contend with similar body image issues or EDs. Overall, I’m glad I picked up this memoir, something rather different from my usual reading material, and found it to be a very enjoyable book.

Content: There are no issues regarding profanity, violence, or sexual content. While Stirling does go into some detail regarding her eating disorder, it’s never glamorized and she focuses more on the emotional pain it caused as well as her road to recovery; therefore, there is nothing here that would be a trigger for sensitive readers.

The Run-Down:
Overall, The Only Pirate at the Party is a funny, heart-warming, encouraging book that would appeal to a large audience, especially frequent readers of memoirs or anything music-related. In an aside, I think Ms. Stirling is an unsung role model for young ladies, whether they want to enter the music industry or not. She’s not a plastic princess who touts a false image of herself but, instead, advocates appreciating yourself for who you are. Likewise, in an age where feminism-touting, political-party favoring, spoiled divas seem to rule the world (you can probably guess a few pop stars I’m thinking of!), Stirling is a proverbial breath of fresh air. Neither her music nor her memoir tout any kind of sociopolitical front and both are devoid of drama-infused temper tantrums. Instead, she shares stories from both her life and her heart and seeks to only inspire. For that, I would say make sure to check out The Only Pirate at the Party and you might find a new musical artist to jam to as well as appreciate for her honesty.


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