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Book Review

Book Cover

I Carried a Watermelon
Dirty Dancing and Me (Hardback)


Author: Katy Brand
Publisher: HQ

250 pages
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 0 008 35278 3
Publication Date: 10 October 2019

Katy Brand's life-long obsession with Dirty Dancing has influenced her in the most unexpected ways. It has shaped her attitudes to sex, love, relationships, politics, and whether it’s possible to learn a complicated dance routine in a matter of days. All while carrying a watermelon. So why does she love Dirty Dancing so much? Well, although it might seem like a dance-themed romance on the surface, it is in fact so much more. It has everything: daughters, fathers, neglected wives, unwanted pregnancy, lowlife scum and rich, entitled kids – and how to handle them all. Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to an iconic hit and work of genius, in I Carried A Watermelon Katy explores her own memories of the film and talks to its legions of fans, to examine its legacy...

I'm going to come clean. I don't think I've ever seen Dirty Dancing (despite knowing what it's about). I've always been convinced I'd watched it at school, with my classmates. My memory recalls my form teacher (she was also a PE teacher) really excited to be showing it to us as she loved it). That would mean I saw it sometime between 1981-4 but as the film was released in 1987, the year after I'd left the sixth form, it would appear that whatever movie I saw wasn't Dirty Dancing.

Likewise, I'm not really a huge fan of Katy Brand, if I'm honest I didn't know who she was and even when I saw the cover of the book I didn't recognise her at all. With that in mind, it's safe to say I'm not the target audience, and you could argue that I'm not the best person to review it... but here I am anyway. That's the beauty of being chosen to review things at random.

The book is a love letter to a film that has played an important part in Brand's life. We all have a movie that, growing up, meant the world to us. Personally Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope is the movie from my childhood that I still look back fondly on and from my teenage year's it's Back to the Future. But I've never used them to shape my life in quite the way Brand seems to have done - otherwise I'd have kissed my sister and tried to go back in time to fight off the advances of my mother.

The main thing I took away from this was how utterly obsessed Brand was, as a young girl, by a movie that would then go on to be an important part of her life. And that enthusiasm doesn't seem to have diminished over the years. If you're a fan of hers, but haven't seen the movie, worry not as she breaks the film down throughout the book. In fact, on occasion, she repeats the same basic information a little too often.

It's not a laugh out loud read, but it will make you smile. It's not quite an autobiography in the true sense of the word, but Brand's fans will learn a little bit more about her and what has shaped her life choices.


Darren Rea

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