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This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir


This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir

Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with at a Party. An off-the-wall Jeanine Pirro. Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Cecily Strong can play anything and everything on “Saturday Night Live.” In THIS WILL ALL BE OVER SOON, we see how her anxieties and fears about her family, her job and the world at large would make lockdown, COVID-19 and the death of her favorite funny cousin even more painful and historic than she originally thought they would be. Written in diary-style entries starting in March 2020, Strong brings us uneasily into her world of pain and her struggle to learn joy again.

“I don’t know how to tell this story,” she begins, trying to show us that so much happened in such a short period of time that she isn’t quite sure where to dig in. Her cousin gets sick and dies from brain cancer. Her new boyfriend gets the virus. She goes into lockdown with two friends in an Airbnb in upstate New York --- and while she is there, Hal Willner, the inestimable and furiously creative songwriter/producer/writer/funny man, loses his life to the pandemic. Strong wants to live up to her actual name, but the constant influx of bad news wears away at whatever resolve and hope she is mustering while grieving big losses in her personal life.

"THIS WILL ALL BE OVER SOON is a good and sincere first take on these pandemic times. I hope Strong finds her rainbow and her happy ending because we need her heartfelt, keenly observed humor now more than ever."

Strong is guarded as she tells the story of her cousin, Owen. She shares texts and tales about her relationship with him but never quite cements us to his image the way she does to her own foibles from the past, such as getting kicked out of high school and having to find a new school to attend, an arts school where she starts building the creative community of co-stars she calls “home.” The stories about her growth as a performer are the ones she seems most comfortable telling; through them, we get a deeper look into her warm and worried soul.

Like Bo Burnham’s “Inside,” Strong tries to capture the raw feelings of overwhelmingness and fear that we’ve experienced over the last 18 months. We’ve all said goodbye to people, places and norms that we still haven’t figured out how to replace. Grieving is taking place, not in a vacuum but side by side with horror on a global scale. Add in climate change and political unrest, and you have a Tolstoy novel on your hands. Unfortunately, unlike Burnham’s show, Strong doesn’t quite grasp the bigger picture to which we all can relate through her personal lens.

THIS WILL ALL BE OVER SOON maintains a sullen but hopeful sense of purpose as it moves through the year. Strong finds revelry in her friendships, warmth in her family relationships, happiness and whimsy in her tales of Owen, and abject fear in facing the restrictions she hopes will keep COVID from affecting any more loved ones in her life. It is an attempt to write from the moment without having the opportunity to look back on a completed situation --- the pandemic is still here, the losses are forever, and the trajectory of her career might be changing. However, it is in her most vulnerable moments that she slings an arm around our shoulders and reminds us that this is how life works. It’s uncomfortable and wondrous in equal measure.

On June 14, 2020, she writes, “Today is the first day I wonder whether the ending to this story might be happy. And I don’t even want to say it out loud, but wouldn’t it be amazing, after all of these days in isolation trying to find magic and trying to learn how to grieve Owen and grieve Hal and just plain grieve…if maybe I get a happy ending?” In that moment, with her trusty canine Lucy by her side, she imagines that her boyfriend situation will work out and life still might have the spark she used to find in it. With these words, she clearly creates the prayer that all people have been speaking throughout this difficult time.

If you like a good celebrity read, told in the voice of a perfectly neurotic and creative actor and writer, you will enjoy the many stories and references about everyone from Kobe Bryant to Lorne Michaels and Chris Redd. Her old boyfriends are outed, and some of those stories are hard to read as they contain a lot of pain and subordination to which we all can relate when looking back on bad relationships.

Strong uses her personal lens to give the reader her take on this insane period. It is strongest felt when she is talking about her own life and her memories of growing up in a world that doesn’t exist anymore. THIS WILL ALL BE OVER SOON is a good and sincere first take on these pandemic times. I hope Strong finds her rainbow and her happy ending because we need her heartfelt, keenly observed humor now more than ever.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on August 27, 2021

This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir
by Cecily Strong

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2022
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1982168358
  • ISBN-13: 9781982168353