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Save Yourself

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From standup comic Cameron Esposito, a memoir that tackles sexuality, gender and equality--and how her Catholic upbringing prepared her for a career as an outspoken lesbian comedian in ways the Pope never could have imagined.

Cameron Esposito wanted to be a priest and ended up a standup comic. She would like to tell the whole, freaking queer as hell story. Her story. Not the sidebar to a straight person's rebirth-she doesn't give a makeover or plan a wedding or get a couple back together. This isn't a queer tragedy. She doesn't die at the end of this book, having finally decided to kiss the girl. It's the sexy, honest, bumpy and triumphant dyke's tale her younger, theology major self needed to read. Because there was a long time when she thought she wouldn't make it. Not as a comic, but as a human.

SAVE YOURSELF is full of funny and insightful recollections about everything from coming out (at a Catholic college where being gay can get you expelled) to how joining the circus can help you become a better comic (so much nudity) to accepting yourself for who you are--even if you're an awkward tween with an eyepatch (which Cameron was). Packed with heart, humor, and cringe-worthy stories anyone who has gone through puberty can relate to, Cameron's memoir is for that timid, fenced-in kid in all of us--and the fearless standup yearning to break free.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published March 24, 2020

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Cameron Esposito

3 books73 followers

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 286 reviews
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
811 reviews1,275 followers
January 20, 2021
"Lesbians existed but I couldn’t see ’em. Or hear ’em. Or look ’em up because THERE WAS NO INTERNET."

Once upon a time, I thought I was the only lesbian on earth. And before that, I didn't even know what a lesbian was or that there was a name for girls who liked girls instead of boys or that there had ever even existed another girl who did.

In the days before internet and Ellen, it was easy to believe I was the only lesbian on earth. Hell, I didn't even know I was lesbian growing up. All I knew was that I was different and I really, really liked girls but that was wrong because all the other girls liked boys and why the hell couldn't I like boys too and just be normal? 

And then I learned the words gay and lesbian and queer and felt so much relief that there actually were at least a couple other people in the existence of humanity who were attracted to the "wrong" people. At least one man who loved men and one woman who loved women. There wouldn't be names for us if there weren't! 

I was desperate to find anything or anyone even remotely like me. As Carmen writes, "Beyond the rare overtly queer material I could find, I’d latch on to stuff that was just kinda gay if you squinted and thought really hard about."

Today, it's much different but I imagine it's still difficult for young LGBQTIA kids growing up, feeling different, and worrying that people will hate them because of it. We all want to fit in and be accepted for who we are. It's especially important for young people to see themselves represented in books and the media and government and know they are not alone. They are not abnormal. They are not flawed.

I now know I'm not alone in my gayness and am no longer desperate to find connection with others like me. However it's still meaningful to read books by other gay people and identify with them. 

This memoir was so much fun to read. Comedienne Carmen Esposito describes so well the feelings of isolation many gay people went/go through. The elation -and pain - of coming out. And so much more. I loved reading how she came to finally accept herself, and how her family eventually did too.

There is a lot that is serious in this book but Carmen writes in a lighthearted and funny way. It took a little getting used to her style of comedy but once I did, she kept cracking me up.

For every queer person who ever felt alone - and I think that's most or even all of us - Save Yourself is a book you will identify with. And one that will make you laugh!
Profile Image for Nadia.
172 reviews
January 22, 2020
Do you ever feel like you just need something gay in your life? C'mon - it can't just be me. Well, this book is perfect for that feeling. It is hilarious and comforting, while not avoiding the difficult discussions of actually surviving as a queer person, even with privilege and success.

There is nothing apologetic in this book, as there shouldn't be, and it's such a relief to read something by an out queer woman that is about being an out queer woman. I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say there. I guess what I mean is that I find many memoirs by out queer women to be about being a person, who also happens to be queer. This doesn't read like that. Of course queer women are people, but also they are Queer Women. Am I making sense? I'm giddy from the gayness; grammar and sense-making are less achievable than usual.

My one regret is that I read this, instead of listened to it. If Esposito reads the Audiobook version of this (I vote yes), I might have to read it again.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,192 reviews342 followers
March 17, 2020
Save Yourself By Cameron Esposito

Cameron Esposito is as funny as she can get with her memoir. At the time of social distancing and anxiety provoking situations we are all going through currently, listening and reading SAVE YOURSELF was not only timely but may have helped in saving myself through this stressful times - at least for me it did! I found myself squirming, giggling, choking on food and liquids, and cringing to my delight.

Esposito explored issues of gender, sexuality and feminism in a Catholic upbringing. Through a very funny and yet honest look at exploring and finding her true self, Esposito delivered a memoir that is fearless and full of heart. A standing ovation for Cameron on a great storytelling! Well done!

Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,208 reviews3,698 followers
April 27, 2020
A memoir of a lesbian comedian who was raised Catholic? The premise sounded interesting even if I'm not big into stand-up comedy and wasn't familiar with the work of the author. I imagine that people in that world would get more out of this than I did, but even so there were things about this that I found to be very compelling.

Cameron shares about her childhood, clear signs from early on that she was not straight and the very slow journey to her own self-realization in college and eventual coming out. Difficulties growing up in a traditional Catholic family and having been quite devout herself, the time it took for her family to accept her, and her eventual journey into the world of comedy.

I really enjoyed the portions of the book that followed the author's childhood, adolescence, and college years. The process of looking back on your life with fresh eyes and seeing things from a different perspective that should perhaps have been obvious is interesting and relatable. Also the challenging nuances of faith and religion and the ways things are interpreted is worth exploring. I struggled more with the later portions of the book.

Much of it is focused on her comedy career (which I didn't find to be terribly interesting) and her relationships. In most of her relationships the author ended up cheating on girlfriends and lying a lot. And while she kind of acknowledges that she lied and didn't do things perfectly, she never calls it cheating and it felt like the severity of the behavior was glossed over. I was quite uncomfortable with that. On the one hand, props to Cameron for being honest and vulnerable. On the other hand, take more responsibility? It's always hard to rate someone's life story, but I found the later part of the book to be frustrating.

The question of was it funny? Sometimes. I didn't actually laugh much. Maybe once or twice. But also, I don't think it was usually trying to be funny. She shines a light on issues of rape and consent, homophobia, sexism, harassment, and more. I had mixed feelings overall, but I'm glad I read it. If you need content warnings, do be aware there are lots of them including all of the above issues. I listened to this courtesy of Libro.FM and the author reads the book herself, which is always cool for memoirs. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,157 reviews1,465 followers
April 2, 2020
This was a wonderful, vulnerable memoir about lesbian comedian Cameron Esposito's life so far. I found learning about her super Catholic upbringing and how she navigated figuring out she was gay in (a super Catholic) college fascinating. She doesn't withhold details that make her look bad (cheating when she didn't knowing how to end her first queer relationship, voting for Goerge W Bush when she was pro-life). Warm, conversational, and laugh out loud funny. Although this book deals with some tough subjects (sexual assault, familial homophobia) I found it overall not a heavy read. I left it feeling soothed and optimistic.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
623 reviews625 followers
July 6, 2020
I really wanted to read Cameron Esposito's memoir because I love her podcast "Queery" but that one focuses mostly on her guests and I was really interested to find out more about the author and her life.
This memoir is brutally honest. Esposito does not hold back on talking very openly about her experience coming to terms with and truly discovering her sexuality and how that would lead to very questionable behaviour. But I liked that. I liked that she didn't shy away from talking openly about it. She is aware that she made mistakes but that a lot of things were also a very big "grey area". She acknowledged her past but she is also not beating herself up for things she can no longer change anyway. I understand not everybody is gonna like that and I do not condone her behaviour but for the experience of reading a memoir, I enjoyed it a lot.
I read this via audio, which was the obvious choice considering I know her through her podcast but also because I think memoirs are generally best consumed via audio (if the authors reads them) and I enjoyed that experience immensely!

Trigger and content warnings for rape and sexual harassment, homophobia, abuse and cheating.

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Profile Image for Austen.
Author 4 books57 followers
August 29, 2019
I laughed out loud through this whole book! Cameron writes like she speaks, and if you enjoy her standup you'll enjoy this. Also, I don't think I've read a better explanation of what a first relationship feels like when you're young and queer and not out--it really resonated with me. Thanks, Cameron!
Profile Image for Erin Beall.
445 reviews119 followers
May 30, 2020
3.5 stars, rounded up because they are my favorite comedian.

This memoir begins as a deliciously funny reflection on a wildly interesting childhood, religion, and sexuality, filled with open, honest questions and wistful but mature memories. In the first half of the book, Cameron is brave and brazen, in her element and doing more than making her reader laugh; she also allows us to think with her about religion and memory and gender.
The book somewhat devolves, however, by the halfway point, to a rather straightforward recitation of life events. Interesting and funny, but not as honest or focused as the first half. Knowing about her personal life during the writing of this book, I got flashbacks to reading Glennon Doyle's second memoir, where she tries to write passionately about a love that she is not passionate about.

So I am also reminded of the power of the next memoir, where frankness can return (in even fuller force), and the author can speak of the near past with conviction and hope, rather than turning on a bit of an autopilot to talk about the distant past to cope with current tragedy. (Which is a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism! It just didn't make me loooove the second half of this book.)

I love Cameron Esposito and will read/watch/buy everything they put out. I hope their life, and their next memoir, comes and slaps us in the face with truth and humor and love and joy.
Profile Image for Courtney.
300 reviews31 followers
March 18, 2022
I am not one for funny books because it is really hard to make me laugh. But.... congratulations Cameron Esposito you had me in stitches. I loved this book, so many truths, so many hilarious moments. My only regret is that I didn't listen to this as an audiobook because I think it would have been even funnier.

Thank you to Grand Central Pub for my complimentary copy!
Profile Image for Mareike.
Author 5 books56 followers
April 1, 2020
I loved this book.
It's funny and honest and sometimes painful and I had no idea how much I needed it. There's parts that cut right through me with a feeling of recognition so strong I had to take breaks.

I've known about Cameron Esposito for years, ever since Jezebel featured a video of her in an article about period jokes. I didn't immediately start following her work then cause stand-up isn't a genre that really works for me, or, so I thought. Until I found stand-up comedians whose sets absolutely do work for me.

Tig Notaro? - I desperately need to re-watch "Happy to Be Here".

Hannah Gadsby - I don't think anyone has ever made me laugh and cry as much during the same set.

Cameron Esposito? - 15/10 would recommend.

(If you're thinking 'Geee, that's a very specific subset of stand-up comedians', congratulations, you are correct.)

Anyway, I was excited about this memoir before I read it and I briefly contemplated immediately re-reading it when I finished it last night. It is a very funny and very honest description of growing up Catholic and gay in the suburbs of Chicago (CW: ) and then doing the work of finding out who you are as an adult. It's also a very interesting look at an artistic life and the stand-up scene in the early 2000s - which I didn't really know a lot about, except that it was very much a sausage fest.

Bonus point: Cameron's voice really comes through in the writing. I could hear her as I was reading, which is especially nice with a memoir.
Profile Image for Cynthia Corral.
402 reviews54 followers
December 30, 2019
Yes, this book is laugh out loud funny, but it is also incredibly sad in parts. You won't laugh through this entire book, you will feel pain and heart break and disappointment and frustration. And then you turn the page and laugh again. Just like real life.

I am a big fan of Cameron Esposito, and because her career is centered around talking about her (often amazing) life, I was already familiar with many of the stories. In this book she fleshes the stories out and gives more of her emotions, and the experiences that shaped those emotions, and the events that helped her understand what happened. Much of the book is about her experience in the Catholic church and how her feelings about the church evolved, and how her experience with the church shaped her life and still has repercussions in many ways. We follow along as she understands her sexuality, and how coming out affected her and those around her. She talks about first girlfriends, and later girlfriends, and heart break and loss. I have a greater understanding of her family, and the love they all share, and I'm glad that even though her coming out was rough, they managed to get back to that amazing family eventually. We learn all about how her career started and grew, and I have even more respect for her now that I understand how hard she has worked, and all the amazing things she has done for women in comedy from behind the scenes.

What we don't hear about (other than some casual mentions) is Rhea. There is a one paragraph note at about the 70% mark where she explains that that loss is just then happening and therefore too fresh and painful to include in this book. That one paragraph just ripped my heart out. I had to finally put the book down at that point to resume the next morning. Cameron has been very open about 2019 being such a painful year for her, and I hope she understands we have all hurt for them both and wish them healing as quickly as Life will allow.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and I'm so thankful for it. I was a fan before, I'm a bigger fan now. Cameron is so very intelligent, and her book is written very well. I definitely recommend it and I look forward to her next (even though I'm sure it will make me cry).
Profile Image for Hanna.
155 reviews29 followers
June 16, 2020
I finished my first audiobook, y’all!

3.5⭐️’s, to be exact. This book is written & narrated by Cameron Esposito. I love that the author read the audiobook herself because she gets to put all the emphasis & inflection where she wrote it in & because this is a memoir & it makes it feel more personal!

Cameron talks about growing up catholic and republican (relatable), growing out of both of those things (relatable), how her upbringing affected her queerness (wow, one more time, relatable), and all about her journey into & through comedy. I found the bits about her relationships, her childhood, & her growing up to be most compelling. That’s likely because that’s what I related to most (through my life or those of folks I deeply love), and also because (I’m sorry) I’m not familiar with Cameron’s stand-up. That being said, after reading this book, I want to be!

Also, shout-out to Libro.fm, an audiobook distributor that supports independent bookstores all over the US.
Profile Image for Emily.
108 reviews21 followers
August 31, 2020
As a big fan of Cameron Esposito's comedy, I'm a bit biased, and I think without that fanfare this review would be different. I found myself giggling at this book A LOT. And what I do think she did an excellent job at was writing in her voice. I could hear her saying most of the book, which I think would make this a fun one to listen to as an audiobook. Otherwise, I could kinda tell this was her first book? The chapters felt a little stilted at times and I think I would have called this a memoir in a series of essays instead of a complete novel? I don't know. I liked it!

EDITED TO ADD: What I also think this book does an excellent job at is really giving a great example of how damaging the church (particularly the Catholic church) can be to young queer kids. I can't imagine someone reading this book and not really "getting it" and being VERY MAD.
Profile Image for Katie.
550 reviews6 followers
August 2, 2021
Thank you Ellen for introducing me to Cameron Esposito's comedy and roping me into going to see her in Sacramento that one time and for recommending this book! (ALSO SO COOL SHE KNOWS TIG NOTARO!) Parts of it were super relatable to me due to my upbringing (I believe I actually applied to that college??). Esposito's memoir tells about the specifics of her life but focuses on some universal anxieties. One of the parts that really stuck out to me was:

"I have trouble trusting people... I don't trust people to like me... I basically always feel at some deep, deep level that I am a burden and my emotions are a burden and everyone would prefer that I joke from a distance than be a nearby soft slug with feelings."
Profile Image for Lila Nazarian.
35 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2021
Honestly, I usually don’t finish this type of memoir-ish book. In others the authors just sort of ramble and tell anecdotes about their lives that feel disjointed and are hard to engage with. This book was the opposite—funny, powerful, and a really honest introspection by Cameron on her own life. I was moved by a lot of it and laughed at the rest. Highly recommend to anyone, especially people who have navigated faith and sexuality.
Profile Image for Permanently_Booked.
865 reviews57 followers
March 27, 2020
This was a fun and in some parts, insightful book to listen too. There are some reviews, I noticed, that looked down on her version of coming into her own (or her coming out) and how she portrayed it in her writing style. To me, our stories are our own and how you choose to provide that to the world is your choice. I can't imagine this being easy nor can I imagine having an opinion on how a person chooses to do so.

Overall, I enjoyed her delivery of her memories and feelings. For me it wasn't the laugh out loud kind of humor I look for in a memoir but it did have a lot of comical wit. I was entertained and found a lot of what she had to say uplifting. Some things I even needed to hear during this time in my life. There were times my mind would wander off while listening or I'd think the book ended and another chapter would begin. This is more my listener preference and ADHD kicking in with memoirs.

Thank you Libro.fm for the opportunity to listen to this advanced listening copy for an unbiased and honest opinion.
Profile Image for Camila L Abd.
42 reviews
December 3, 2022
É estranho avaliar a vida dos outros rs Mas dando estrelinhas porque gostei bastante! Gosto mto de cameron e do humor dela e foi bem interessante ler sobre a historia e o relacionamento delu com queerness/familia/religiao/comedia. No finalzinho do livro ela faz uma analogia mto bonita com deus e comunidade/amor.

(Ps: incrivel como ler sobre gays simplesmente ~vivendo bate forte. Beijo, cammy.)
Profile Image for Susie Dumond.
Author 2 books132 followers
January 21, 2020
In this memoir, comedian Cameron Esposito explores her coming out process and writes the queer coming of age story she wishes she'd heard as a young person. This was even more laugh-out-loud funny than I expected, and I had high expectations as a fan of Esposito. But beyond the laughs, this memoir has so much heart. Growing up in a devout Catholic family and attending a conservative Catholic university meant Esposito's journey of self-exploration wasn't always easy. She doesn't shy away from the difficult moments, and her earnest vulnerability in SAVE YOURSELF made this a very special book. As a queer person, seeing myself in Esposito's journey means more than I can say. And the fact that she can share such personal stories that make me laugh and cry is a tribute to her truly impressive writing. I'm sure the audiobook will be even better; I can't wait to hear these stories again in Cameron's voice!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Kaylin Creason.
34 reviews3 followers
July 30, 2020
Where my recovering Catholics at? There are a lot of reasons to read this book, but if you are struggling to come to terms with the faith background you grew up in (and it was a very involved faith background) then you NEED to read Esposito's memoir. It's healing, and puts into words feelings and experiences I didn't know there were words for. Esposito writes about the importance in her life of people who modeled lives she didn't know were possible--thanks for modeling a recovering Catholic for me, Esposito.

Oh, and also it's hilarious. BRB gonna go watch her stand-up.
September 10, 2022
My wife and I read this one together, and naturally we loved every minute of it!! It was great to hear a story similar to ours, but with more punch-lines.
Cameron is someone that is relatable no matter who you are. I spent half the book convinced Cameron had somehow tapped into my thoughts and feelings and the other half wondering if Cameron was stalking my wife (just kidding_ mostly).

Anyway, I would 10/10 recommend!
Profile Image for Lauren.
54 reviews5 followers
April 1, 2020
I loved every minute of this book (I listened to it). I went to Cameron Esposito's high school (a lowly freshmen when she was a senior) and I found myself nodding along when she was describing those days. But aside from our brief shared history, I found the book incredibly compelling. She's an excellent storyteller and extremely relatable.
Profile Image for Rosey Waters.
Author 1 book11 followers
July 5, 2020
Oh wow.

So okay. This book was so so good. It was like someone was looking into my soul and giving me a hug, and telling me that things were going to be okay.

There were so many lines that I just felt deep down that meant so much to me.

Comedy is important, but vulnerability? It's essential!
Profile Image for agata.
213 reviews9 followers
March 21, 2022

Cameron Esposito is a comedian, podcaster, and actress. Her book, Save Yourself, is a hilarious and quirky memoir about growing up as a lesbian in a very Catholic family. More than that, it’s also about growing up as a lesbian while being very Catholic, to the point of attending all Catholic schools and joining anti-choice protests. The journey that Esposito went through to finally become comfortable with who she is is not only admirable, but also fascinating.

Save Yourself is emotional and contains such heavy themes as homophobia, eating disorders, health issues, and feminism, while staying lighthearted and relatable. Esposito writes about her first sexual experiences, relationships, first steps on the comedic scene with so much charm and humor that I ended up inhaling this book in two days. It’s honestly so heartwarming to see a fellow queer person grow so much and achieve so much success, especially when their starting point was filled with a lot of self-loathing and internalized homophobia. But Esposito doesn’t try to convince us that the road was always straight; she doesn’t shy away from writing about her mistakes and some of the hurtful things she did, and I loved how honest and open her book is.

TLDR: Save Yourself is a charming and amusing memoir about realizing, understanding and accepting your queerness, and a glimpse into what it means to navigate life as a gay female comedian.
Profile Image for Rhiannon.
199 reviews32 followers
November 21, 2020
This book made me so sad because I, too, want to be off in my twenties doing messy gay shit and instead I’m spending my youth holed up during a pandemic.... *pours another glass of wine*

I’m not starring this because it seems strangely rude to leave a starred review of someone else’s life?? I honestly only am familiar with Cameron Esposito’s work in passing; I’ve seen clips of her comedy and her acting, but not enough that I could even call myself a fan. I genuinely saw the book on sale, went, “ooh, cheap AND gay,” and bought it.

I think I always forget how much I enjoy memoirs (and nonfiction in general) until I’m actually reading one and having a hard time putting it down. I opted for the audiobook version, which is narrated by Cameron Esposito herself. Her voice is great and delivery charming, and I ended up getting sucked into this memoir and blowing through it in two days. Save Yourself is funny and genuine and moving, with a lot of laughs and also a lot of heart.

“I want to be a gay-ass tree.” Cheers, I’ll drink to that.
17 reviews1 follower
May 22, 2020
Wow. This book felt truly therapeutic for me. I'm not sure the extent to which I loved this story because it was familiar, but I think part of Cameron's gift is being able to make her story relatable. She really captures what it was like to be a queer kid in the 80s and 90s. I also loved the inspiring way that she spoke about getting into standup. I listened to the audio version read by Cameron which I loved. I barreled through the book in just a couple of days and kept wanting more. The one piece I would have liked more analysis around was her coming from a wealthy family and the shifting financial reality of pursuing a career as a comedian. The ways that she described being broke as an adult rubbed me the wrong way without being put in context of her privileged economic upbringing.
Profile Image for Living My Best Book Life.
768 reviews79 followers
March 19, 2020
Save Yourself is a hilarious and honest memoir by Cameron Esposito. She writes about growing up, coming out, and learning to feel comfortable in her own skin.

I have always enjoyed Cameron as the funny and likable comedian who seems so down to earth. I love that we get to see how she got to be the person she is today.

There are great moments in the book. I like how she is vulnerable and so open with readers. We all have our struggles, but this book can help so many learn to embrace themselves.

I give Save Yourself 4 stars. It's a memoir that is authentic and genuine. I know this book has the ability to change lives!!
Profile Image for Jen.
Author 1 book177 followers
April 8, 2020
Damn, I loved this book so much. I felt SO SEEN, and I love the way Cameron talks about her experiences in church and comedy, but more so within the queer community. I listened to the audiobook in a single day because I just kept wanting to hear her words. Funny as ever, and so compassionate around so many things.

One note: in a few specific moments her internalized fatphobia jumps out a bit (when talking about herself). She talks about how her body image is something she's struggled with almost all of her life, and I'm sure living in LA doesn't help, so it's not unexamined. But it is in there and I wanted to mention it here in case that's harmful for you.
101 reviews10 followers
July 8, 2021
I try to be stingy with my 5-star ratings, so I was waffling on this one between 4 and 5. It gets 5 because - the audiobook version! As a comedian who reads her book herself, Cameron's tone and timing are spot-on. I really liked her voice as well. And the writing - she's great at the one-line teaser. For example, I liked the one about how, after a tough break-up, she ran away with the circus. I'd be like, "what?! How'd that work?!" and then we'd get the whole story. It really drove the narrative and I found it completely delightful.
Listening to this audiobook got me through the last few runs of training for a half marathon. Thank you, Cameron!
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