It’s a truth universally agreed upon, at least among those of us who came of age in the 1980s, that Cyndi Lauper is one of the coolest, most interesting people in the world. Her songs made us want to dance and bop around and roller-skate. Lauper became a superstar for belting out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and, admittedly, she did have more than her fair share of good times, sometimes criminally great times. Now 59, she has the ability to look back over her life with enough objectivity and wisdom to tell the colorful, heart-achingly fantastic story of her journey from a rebellious runaway to a rock star, always with an unwavering feminist bent. Her eponymous book, co-written with the talented Jancee Dunn, reads just like she sounds: unpretentious, quirky, and honest all the way down to its roots.
After leaving her mom’s house at age 17 to get away from her creepy stepdad, Lauper led a hardscrabble existence for years, working variously as a go-go dancer and a maid while trying to find her footing in the music business. By the time success came to her, in her 30s, she’d earned every drop of it. The more painful parts of the story center on the ways in which she was sexually assaulted and maligned, but the counter to the discomfort of reading about such incidents is Lauper’s relentless spiritedness. There’s not an entitled bone in her body. “As you treat others,” she thinks after running into a former bandmate who violently mistreated her, “at one point in your life, whether it’s now or later, you’re going to get it back.” Lauper’s career has had its ups and downs, to which she attests, but she’s always treated people with respect and care, and that is part of why she shines.