Katy Brand’s latest book is a love letter to the film Dirty Dancing. In it Brand merges autobiography with a surprisingly in depth study of the 1987 film, its impact on her upon first watching and why it endures as classic 30 years later. Everyone remembers the first time they ever saw Dirty Dancing, I know I do. My big sister’s friend Claire had been given a copy for her 12th birthday and they were watching it, as Patrick Swayze flicked Baby’s bra on the floor, as a prudish eight year old I agreed with the adults present that this was a very unsuitable gift for a 12-year-old (I remain an extremely fun party guest).
People might be tempted to dismiss Dirty Dancing but Brand’s I Carried a Watermelon provides plenty of excellent points explaining why this low budget film deserves a second watch with a less cynical mind.
The script was written by a woman, Eleanor Bergstein, and the story deals with backstreet abortion, virginity and a young woman’s sexuality with refreshing honesty and zero schmaltz. This is rare and explains why the film strikes such a chord in teenage girls, why Brand watched the film until the tape was worn and mangled in the VCR player, why I remember so vividly that bra flick – hint; it wasn’t because I was so scandalised.
Just like the film, this book might at first strike you as a fun nostalgia trip – and it is, I laughed and laughed reading it. However Brand will take you by surprise at how she can draw tears and anger from you on a woman’s lot in the 60s, when the film was set, in the 80s when the film was made, the 00s and now, when Brand contrasts her own experiences with occurrences in the film.
I Carried a Watermelon shifts between funny, embarrassing stories to make you cringe-laugh as much as Baby’s “I carried a watermelon” line and gut-wrenching personal recollections that make it so clear why women deserve more media that deals with the content Dirty Dancing does.
You don’t have to be an uber-fan of the film to enjoy this book immensely, put it on your wishlist now.
Katy Brand’s I Carried a Watermelon is published by HQ and available to buy from 10th October. You can pre-order a copy here!