Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Published on: April 14, 2015
Page Count: 320
My Reading Format: Audiobook review copy sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Audiobook Published by: Hachette Audio
Narrator: Kate Mulgrew
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 46 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Warning: Born With Teeth may cause you to binge watch Star Trek: Voyager.
Summary from the Publisher:
Raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew “how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil”, Kate Mulgrew grew up with poetry and drama in her bones. But in her mother, a would-be artist burdened by the endless arrival of new babies, young Kate saw the consequences of a dream deferred. Determined to pursue her own no matter the cost, at 18 she left her small Midwestern town for New York, where, studying with the legendary Stella Adler, she learned the lesson that would define her as an actress: “Use it,” Adler told her. Whatever disappointment, pain, or anger life throws in your path, channel it into the work.
It was a lesson she would need. At 22, just as her career was taking off, she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Having already signed the adoption papers, she was allowed only a fleeting glimpse of her child. As her star continued to rise, her life became increasingly demanding and fulfilling, a whirlwind of passionate love affairs, life-saving friendships, and bone-crunching work. Through it all Mulgrew remained haunted by the loss of her daughter until, two decades later, she found the courage to face the past and step into the most challenging role of her life both on and off screen.
We know Kate Mulgrew for the strong women she’s played – Captain Janeway on Star Trek; the tough-as-nails Red on Orange Is the New Black. Now we meet the most inspiring and memorable character of all: herself. By turns irreverent and soulful, laugh-out-loud funny and heart-piercingly sad, Born with Teeth is the breathtaking memoir of a woman who dares to live life to the fullest, on her own terms.
I never watched a single episode of Star Trek until I moved to Roanoke. My now husband is a fan, and it was around that time that Star Trek: Voyager premiered. I was hooked. I loved Captain Janeway and her crew. I enjoyed the show so much, that I even started watching episodes of the Next Generation. Kate Mulgrew is a wonderful actress. In those pre-Google days, I knew that she looked familiar to me, but it took me a while to place her as a character on Ryan’s Hope. It turns out I had enjoyed her work from an early age. This continues through today as her performance in Orange is the New was certainly a highlight of the episodes I’ve watched. When I heard about her upcoming memoir, I was immediately interested.
Other than several of her acting roles, I knew very little about Kate Mulgrew when I began the audiobook. Still, had I not even known about her acting career, I would have been enthralled by the story of her life. She is a fantastic storyteller. As I traveled to and from work, her Irish family came to life before my eyes. I could see them laughing, playing, and mourning. I could feel their pull as she pursued her dreams. Who they were and who she became as a result of growing up in that household was what gave her the strength to handle the many trials she experienced as an adult. The family was far from perfect, but they were truly a gift to each other.
As an adoptive mother, I was especially interested in her experiences placing her oldest child for adoption. While there are aspects of that story that sadden me for her, I hope that someday my daughter can read this book. What a powerful statement she made about the birth mothers, their love, and their sacrifice for the children they love so dearly.
Not all actors can narrate well. This wasn’t an issue with Born With Teeth. Kate Mulgrew’s performance was as phenomenal as her memoir. Together, this experience reminded me of just how powerful and compelling a good memoir can be. I don’t often read much non-fiction. Books like this make me wonder why. I left Born With Teeth begging the universe via Twitter for a sequel. I want Mulgrew to keep writing her story. I will read anything she writes. If she narrates it as well, that will be the sweetest possible icing on the cake.