I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
I Don't Belong to You:  Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice Book Poster Image
Inspiring memoir/advice book from popular actress/singer.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Advice and motivational book meant to inspire and entertain. Some information about the challenges of making it in the entertainment business. 

Positive Messages

Stay true to who you are. Even if who or what you are changes and evolves, that's OK, you can be true to who or what you are right now. Don't let other people define who you are or what you do. Find your passion and follow it. Creativity in any form is great for learning about yourself and for making connections both within yourself and with other people. Relationships need forgiveness and trust. Spiritual and faith-based messages encourage exploring other religions, which are just different paths on the same journey, while emphasizing Keke's belief in a divine creator who put each of us here for a reason. The sooner we learn about our sexuality, the harder it is for others to exploit it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Keke knows she's far from perfect, but she's a great role model for working hard to reach your goals; for examining your life, words, and actions to learn from mistakes and to recognize patterns in your life; and for using lots of resources to learn from and be inspired by. She recommends journaling as a great emotional outlet. She destigmatizes therapy and shows how it helps. And she's always challenging herself to learn, to help others, and to try new and sometimes scary things.

Violence

Uses watching a video of a lion mutilating a person as an example. Mentions without specifics being sexually molested by a female relative when both were children. A story mentions that in the past  a man put out his cigarette in a child's hand. Verbal, emotional, and physical abuse in romantic relationships mentioned, including that Keke was once the abuser and that the man never hit her.

Sex

A chapter is devoted to sexuality. No body parts or specific acts are mentioned. Keke grew up in fear of sexuality because it was never explained to her but she was always warned about it. Keke twerked at the age of 5. Mention of playing a lesbian pimp in a movie. Talks about being pressured to have sex and using sex as a tool or weapon in a relationship. Slept in the same bed with a man but they only cuddled. A couple of mentions of kissing, like when in a relationship they started kissing. As a teen she was cautioned by her male boss that she should modify her open behavior and frequent hugging of co-workers so that men wouldn't get the wrong idea.

Language

"Damn," "bulls--t," "ass," a donkey emoji for "ass," "BIH" (text slang for "bitch"), "motherf--ker," "pissed," "s--t," "mf," "f--k," "LMFAO," "butthole," "pimps, hoes, and lady lovers," some profanity with symbols for letters like "b*tch" or "f*&k." One use of "niggas" (in a positive reference to guys playing on the blacktop being good enough for to be in the NBA).

Consumerism

Lots of inspirational quotes from self-help and motivational gurus, poets, artists, musicians, etc. Citations are often from web sites like hplyrikz.com or thinkexist.com. A few favorite, influential childhood TV shows mentioned. Incidental mention of various social media platforms.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A mention of smoking "not cigarettes" and another mention of smoking without saying what. Some exploration of the negative impact her father's and a boyfriend's drinking had on her. Remembers a woman who chewed tobacco.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Don't Belong to You:  Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice is partly a memoir and partly a motivational/advice book by actress and music artist Keke Palmer. There's lots of strong language, sometimes with symbols for letters but mostly with the actual word, such as "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "bitch." Also lots of positive inspirational and motivational quotes and life lessons Keke's learned up to the age of 22. Past abuse is mentioned without specific information, including sexual molestation and a man putting a cigarette out in a child's hand. There's a chapter on sexuality without mentioning body parts or actions beyond kissing and mention of having sex. Faith-based and spiritual messages include being mindful that we were placed here by a divine creator for a purpose, and that all religions and spiritual pursuits are different paths on the same journey.

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What's the story?

I DON'T BELONG TO YOU:  QUIET THE NOISE AND FIND YOUR VOICE shows how Keke Palmer's talent and need for creative expression led her family to move from a small town in Illinois to Los Angeles, where she pursued her acting and singing dreams. She met with early successes (Akeelah and the Bee, True Jackson, VP), but that doesn't mean the road was smooth by any means. Through good times and bad, Palmer never stops asking how she can improve herself and help others. And now she's sharing what inspires her, what motivates her, and what she's learned about life so far.

Is it any good?

Often upbeat and funny, always frank and emotionally honest, actress and music artist Keke Palmer's experience and advice will inspire teens and young adults alike. I Don't Belong to You:  Quite the Noise and Find Your Voice is sprinkled with lively, colorful pages of inspirational quotes, and Keke's own stories are peppered with hashtags and emojis that add to the appeal for teens and millennials. Older teens and up who are still looking for their passions in life can be inspired by Keke and benefit from many of the lessons she's learned. But the book's more likely to resonate with those who, like Keke, are strongly driven, goal-oriented, and actively pursuing their passions.

Palmer often goes off on unexpected tangents and veers away from the point she's trying to make, which sometimes gives the book a rambling, aimless feel. And the detailed accounts of her romantic relationships lose focus, becoming more self- indulgent than instructive. But her lively, engaging voice seems genuine and make her a relatable person fans can admire and learn from.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how effective the messages are in I Don't Belong to You. Which messages stand out the most? Do any inspire you to make any changes or try something new?

  • What about all the strong language? Is it realistic? Does it make Keke Palmer easier to relate to, or does it put you off? 

  • Why do you think Palmer wrote this book? Is it a creative outlet? A way to reach out to fans? Are there financial rewards?

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