Lorraine Bracco,
On the Couch
(Penguin, 2006)

This book should be sold in audio form only! Lorraine Bracco's memoir is read straight from the heart, in her raspy Brooklyn accent. She owns these stories and reflections and tells them in a mesmerizing voice. While I was enjoying this audiobook, I often found myself pulling into the garage and sitting there for extended periods of time, unable to tear myself away from Bracco's captivating life story.

On the Couch is the story of an amazing woman who continues to live life to its fullest. Bracco was a gawky Long Island teenager whose wildest dreams came true when a modeling agency took a chance on her. As a hard-working model in Paris, she was shocked when someone suggested trying out for an acting role. She had no belief that modeling prepared her for acting in any way (how refreshing!) and, as it turned out, her acting career was a long, hard climb. Any woman or modern professional will be able to identify with Bracco's experiences with a childhood in suburbia, early romances, her early 20s in Paris, choices between different career paths, the sting of being fired or rejected for a job, motherhood and the process of seeking and growing through therapy. Yes, she also happens to be TV's most famous fictional psychiatrist and an Oscar-nominated actress, but that's all just part of her life experience.

The listener (or reader) will glean some fascinating insight into the industry, including the large differences between television and film sets, the process of filming a pilot and negotiating with studios, the tug-of-war between true genius and unadulterated schmoozing, and the sigma of dyslexia and other conditions in the cutthroat world of acting. Don't pick this one up expecting to get any Hollywood dirt, though! Bracco's anecdotes focus on positive influences, such as the time Sean Connery made her Cinderella for an evening, funny stories about her times on set and unforgettable advice and encouragement she received over the last several decades. This is no sugarcoated story, however, and Bracco owns up to her own weakness and mistakes on many occasions.

I'm recommending this book to my mom and her peers, who are the same age as Bracco, and to my girlfriends, who could use these sage reflections on young life and the outcome of various career and life choices. One of the most important topics in this book is therapy, including Bracco's firsthand experience realizing that depression isn't one big black monster, but a slowly creeping condition. She gives essential advice about the process of growth in therapy and how one may need to move on to a new counseling provider as they progress through the process.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
12 August 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.