You know when all you want to do is wear your PJs all day and watch Friends reruns with your bestie? Well, Celeste Barber had my back. I could tell that if she could, she’d be right there with me, cracking wicked jokes, eating all the chips, and making me laugh.
Challenge Accepted! is littered memoir-style with stories and anecdotes of Barber’s life. An accomplished actor and comedian, she is famous specifically for her celebrity parody photos on Instagram that went viral in 2015. She admits that the stories she shares are not entirely chronological, they might be embellished slightly, and that doesn’t know how to go about writing a memoir. So she starts with her favorite story, the birth of her first child. It’s a rollicking beginning. In between chapters are some of the snaps from her Instagram page of the highly entertaining celebrity parodies like this one, this one, and this one. Barber aims to please, all she wants to do is make people laugh, and she nails it every time.
These parodies were the origin of Challenge Accepted! – pictures sent as challenges between Barber and her sister Olivia making fun of themselves, trying to mimic crazy poses of celebrities. They’re fantastic gems that evoke a massive grin at the very least, but more often cackling. She has no shame, and I am so thankful for it.
While I was getting my giggle on, she was sharing some sweet stories about her family that brought a happy tear to my eye. Her relationships with her parents, sister, husband, children, and besties, feel true, solid, and beautiful. There is such a lovely, down to earth note to each interaction. I especially enjoyed the chapter about her Dad. Their relationship made me nostalgic, reminding me of my Dad. Barber’s writing highlighted to me how important my family is in supporting me.
It’s not all jockeying for a laugh though. There are struggles. Barber discusses her learning difficulties, mental health issues, losing loved ones, sexism, and harassment. There is also a fair bit on body-shaming, bullying, and equality. Did I mention she’s had emergency open heart surgery? Yep. She’s funny, clever, industrious, honest, and a survivor.
Celeste Barber is the real deal, people. I just want to hug her. I loved Challenge Accepted! It was an easy read at a super busy time for me. It was just what I needed.