book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

Published: September 29th, 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir

*I’ve included some personal photos of Mariah, her backup singers and dancers, and of my friends who are part of the Lambily. Some were taken by me, others by lamb friends. These can’t be viewed in the WordPress app so please go to the Web page to see them.


The global icon, award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, actress, mother, daughter, sister, storyteller, and artist finally tells the unfiltered story of her life in The Meaning of Mariah Carey.

It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.

This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.

Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.



“This memoir is a collection of the moments that matter. The moments that most accurately tell the story of who I am according to me.”

As a lamb for over twenty years, I had been eagerly awaiting this memoir for many years. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the woman I adore, whose music has been the soundtrack to my life since I was 14-years-old, and through whom I’ve made some of my dearest friends. 

I decided to listen to the audio as well as buying the book, knowing that Mariah would no doubt put her signature flare on the narration. She did not disappoint. She vividly brought her story to life, had me in hysterics, pulled on the heartstrings, made me cry and had my ears rejoicing as she treated us to sections of some of her songs.

“If this kid makes it, it will be a miracle.”

This is more than a simple rags to riches tale. It’s a story of pain, neglect, abuse, racism, fear and heartache. But alongside it is a message of hope, resilience, bravery, strength and a woman who didn’t just survive but overcame. A woman who went from being a little girl the police didn’t think would make it to one of the best-selling artists in history and living legend. 

As a fan, many of Mimi’s familiar characteristics and phrases will have their origins revealed while reading this book, though sadly they are often rooted in deep trauma. But, on the positive side, I loved having the stories behind many of her songs finally confirmed. It made me see some in a whole new light and added even more layers to her music for me.

“A complicated love tethers my heart to my mother’s.”

The most shocking part of this book for me was the details of her childhood and the neglect  endured. I knew her childhood wasn’t easy and they were poor, but the depth of their poverty and negligence of her mother surprised me. I could hear the fear of 4-year-old Mariah living in the warzone of the violent relationship between her father and older brother Morgan. A situation sometimes so bad the police had to be called to separate them – bringing with it the extra fear of being black and calling the police. 

I was also surprised by the truth of Mariah’s complicated relationship with her mother, Patricia. I was reduced to tears at how she’s treated her daughter and some of the cruel words she’s spoken to her over the years. I loved how Mariah is using this example to speak good things into her own children and as a lesson in what kind of mother she doesn’t want to be. It’s a powerful reminder of both the long-term impact our words and actions can have, and how we can learn from the past in a positive way.

“I was disappearing in installments.”

Some of the most difficult parts for me were when Mariah discusses her marriage to Tommy Mottola. The chapter ‘Side Effects’ often felt like she was telling my story as well as her own. I know only too well what it’s like to realise you’re in a relationship that isn’t healthy, of feeling yourself disappearing piece by piece, but feeling powerless to change it. 

Listening as she slowly built up her strength and made the plans to leave had me on the edge of my seat. It is hard to leave any abusive relationship and I can only imagine the extra fear it holds when your whole career is also wrapped up in that person.

“It’s been a whole rainbow of emotions.”

This book really will take you through a whole rainbow of emotions. I knew Mariah had been through a lot in her life and that this would be emotional, but I was unprepared for just how harrowing, haunting and shocking her story is and the many tears that fell when reading this book. But it isn’t all bleak, this powerful memoir is also filled with hopeful, happy and triumphant moments that will make you smile. I am left in awe of just how much she has overcome and managed to accomplish in spite of the odds stacked against her. Fan or not, this is a memoir you don’t want to miss. 

Thank you Mimi for trusting us with your truth. LYMA. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮


Mariah Carey was born on March 27, 1970 in Huntington, Long Island, New York to Patricia Carey (née Hickey), an opera singer and vocal coach & Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. Her mother is of Irish descent & her father was of African & Venezuelan descent. Mariah attended Greenlawn’s Harborfields High School. In June 1990, Mariah made her debut with “Mariah Carey” which entered at #73, but on August 4, 1990, it reached #1. Her 1990 self-titled debut album went multi-platinum and spawned an extraordinary four consecutive #1 singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” and led to Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. Her 1993 album titled Music Box went ten-times platinum. On September 30, 1995, she made music history. Her single “Fantasy” from her 1995 Daydream album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first female artist to accomplish a number one debut in the U.S. Her other Daydream’s single “One Sweet Day” remained for 16 weeks at the top of the charts. She is the only artist since The Beatles to have so many #1 singles and albums. With “Heartbreaker”, the first single from her 1999 album Rainbow and also her 14 #1 single, she became the only artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s, and with “Heartbreaker” at its 60th week atop the Billboard’s charts, she pushed ahead of The Beatles’s 59-week record as the only artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart.

Following “Heartbreaker,” her second single “Thank God I Found You” also from her Rainbow album became her 15th #1. “We Belong Together” from her 2005 album The Emancipation of Mimi became her 16th #1 single and was also her first #1 without any guest artists since her song “My All” (also a #1 single) captured the top spot in May 1998. The single “Don’t Forget About Us” also from her 2005 album Emancipation of Mimi became her 17th #1 single, tying her with Elvis Presley’s 17 #1 singles. Three more Grammy Awards were gained from The Emancipation of Mimi album. She is the most successful selling female artist in music history and is the only female artist to have the most #1 singles and albums and also holds the record for straight #1 singles and albums each year. Along with numerous awards and incredible vocal range, she also composes all of her own material, with the exception of song covers.

In April 2008, the single “Touch My Body” became her 18th #1 single, pushing her ahead of Elvis Presley’s 17 #1 singles. Now she is the only artist since The Beatles to have as many number one singles and the only singer alive likely to succeed them.

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