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Kevin Hart wrapped up a successful tour for the release of his memoir, 'I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons', including one stop at Politics and Prose Bookstore in D.C.

Book Review: ‘I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons’ by Kevin Hart

Photo of Kevin Hart's Book while a line forms at the bookstore
Courtesy of Politics and Prose Bookstore
Last week, comedian and actor Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence, Wedding Ringer) visited Politics and Prose (P&P) Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Washington, D.C. He was there to promote the release of his new memoir, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons. The line of people extended out the door and quite a long distance along Connecticut Avenue and Nebraska Avenue NW. Some folks waited ninety minutes or longer to meet Hart and have a professional photo taken with him. After the photo-op, attendees collected a signed copy of I Can’t Make This Up on their way to the bookstore exit.

In this book, Hart delves into the hardships of his early years in Philadelphia, frequent trips to the New York comedy scene, and eventual success with a Hollywood career. Each section title begins with “Life Lessons from” and then the corresponding part of his life: Mom, Dad, School, and so on. Chapters within these sections often have humorous titles, aiming for an epic quality. The chapter about his perfect attendance in school is listed as “The Greatest Attender of All Time.” That high school episode marked his first comedic performance. Towards the end of the book, there’s a chapter called, “I Got Nothing. Name This One Yourself.”

A number of the anecdotes match the light tone that Hart uses, as he recounts creative solutions he employed to achieve certain goals. To make it to the varsity team basketball tryouts by six a.m., he moved the clocks at home forward by two hours. Hart tricked his stern mother into believing that he was leaving the house at a more reasonable hour for school. Readers understand that it was only a matter of time before his angry mother appeared at the school with a belt in hand.

Throughout the book, there are also instances when Hart is serious in his tone. This memoir, after all, is about Life Lessons. Some critics will highlight events from the book like drinking, sex, debt, arrests, and dysfunctional relationships. Hart does not shy away from sharing details about those episodes in his life. However, the more important piece to take away is the more mature perspective that peeks through and builds as the narrative progresses.

Photo of the Kevin Hart Photo-Op
Kevin Hart Meets a Fan (Courtesy of GHPrime Media)
Hart explains how he became a better person and professional after the awful experiences. The passages about his children and modeling communication behaviors such as being respectful to their mother and apologizing to others are particularly heartwarming and insightful.

One of my favorite parts of I Can’t Make This Up is not within the inside pages of the book. Short quotes in the style of critic blurbs comprise the back cover. Authors will sometimes play with this format, using a child as a critic for a “boring” adult book. Kevin Hart employs this panel with his own quotes about the book: yes, the author praises his own work as a “somewhat funny comedian,” “award-winning actor,” “professional athlete,” and “life coach and ladies’ man.”

As the actor, he raves that it’s “[t]he most fascinating life story ever told. I related to every scene as if I’d been there.” Indeed, Kevin Hart’s life story is very fascinating. Readers will feel like they are in the scenes with him in his trials and joys alike and gain valuable lessons for their lives.

See the P&P website for information about other book releases and lectures by celebrated authors at the Washington metropolitan area locations. A new P&P bookstore opened in the Union Market district in northeast D.C. on May 30, 2017.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros earned a B.A. in Art History on a full scholarship at the University of Virginia. Pat is a frequent reviewer of all things Washington, D.C., but she's also covered events in Canada and London. Highlights in her work include articles on Ian McKellen and Mark Rylance, as well as memorable interviews with Lawrence Gowan of Styx, Tony Bennett, and Kiefer Sutherland. At Awesome Con 2017, Pat moderated a Q&A for voice actors Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat.

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