The lead singer of Blondie takes readers on a tour of her remarkable life, from her adoption and childhood in suburban New Jersey through the drug-and-sex-fueled arts scene of New York's Lower East Side during the 1970s, which catapulted her to fame.
Harry’s story is an illuminating one, considering how much New York has changed and how stars are made and marketed today ... The chapters about the New York scene and Harry’s early adventures making music are the most compelling parts of the book. We’re in her environment—smelling the garbage piled up on the street, trolling the sidewalks for discarded clothing, stepping over drunks on the Bowery ... Harry is introspective, as she writes about death, time and the serendipitous, sometimes hazardous life she was living ... Unfortunately, fame can make for a rather dull narrative. Once Harry digs into Blondie’s heyday, the book suffers in ways other rock memoirs often do—rehashing the next album, the next tour and so on ... More engaging is Harry’s effort to categorize her music, which she calls a 'crossover between glitter-glam and punk' ... Her commentary on the sexual politics of the music scene of her time are insightful ... Readers, both familiar and unfamiliar with Harry’s career, will enjoy this memoir because on nearly every page she proves she’s more than just a pretty blonde in a pair of tight pants.
Harry’s memoir is not, in fact, a bummer. It’s true that she’s been stalked, raped, addicted to heroin, and hassled by Patti Smith, but Harry relates each incident, bad and good, with a 'that’s life' literary deadpan ... It’s hard to put your finger on the Harry that emerges from Face It. While other aging-rocker memoirs have earned press for the gossip they’ve revealed, so far the biggest brouhaha about Harry’s book has been about a clumsy attempt at summing her up ... Harry is here to fill in some of the blanks—briskly, humorously, and mixed in with abstract riffs on appendages and animals ... She’s also uninterested in getting very deep on certain personal mysteries, like the question of why she and Stein broke up in 1987 after more than a decade together. Her point of view as a songwriter gets only brief, sporadic treatment ... Holding back is an understandable maneuver for someone who’s been stared at so much, and it’s not quite right to call Face It evasive. She always comes off as tough and matter-of-fact and New York–y, very much the voice that complained about love as a 'pain in the ass' in Heart of Glass, or that facetiously took down some 'groupie supreme' in Rip Her to Shreds. Knowing that there are still those who expect her to be simply 'a blonde in tight pants,' she tells her life story how she wants to tell it. And when she gets tired of sharing, Harry is kind enough not to extend a middle finger.
... the memoir is based on a series of lengthy interviews, which makes for a conversational style, though anyone looking for an excavation of the soul might be disappointed. Harry has rock ’n’ roll stories to burn but the memoir as a confessional isn’t her style. For the most part, the Blondie character remains ... somewhat detached ... Whether reflecting on her fruitless search for her birth parents, or the New Jersey ex-boyfriend who stalked her and threatened her with a gun, or the close shave with a man who offered her a lift, and whom she believes to have been the serial killer Ted Bundy, Harry allows no room for shock, sadness or vulnerability. This is, of course, the author’s prerogative and doesn’t mean that the book is without depth or charm. She can be caustic and funny, and is drily unfazed by the antics of her mostly male peers ... Inevitably, Harry’s tales of her solo ventures and Blondie’s eventual reunion lack the atmosphere and excitement of the early years, and it’s with more than a little awkwardness that she shoehorns in details of her current day-to-day life to spice things up ... But when not resorting to padding, Face It makes for an engaging and occasionally surprising read. It’s a shame that Harry passes up the chance to dig deeper into her experiences of objectification and the nature of fame, but more disappointing is that we learn so little about her interior life, and how she really thinks and feels. Perhaps that’s to be expected from a notoriously private star with such an acute understanding of image. Rather than expose her inner workings to the world, Harry has determined to stay mysterious to the last.