Book Club: Try Hard Tales from the Life of a Needy Overachiever

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Author: Em Rusciano
ISBN: 9781925310757
RRP: $32.99

Em Rusciano is a multi-talented Australian who has done quite a lot throughout her career and I was not familiar with her until this book. She is a writer, comedian and singer who has had quite a diverse career to date with radio shows, sold out stand-up shows and a spot on Australian Idol.

Try Hard takes us inside the mind and the life of Em, from her beginnings as a precocious child who loved the spotlight and spent much of her time performing for a captive audience of toys, and her loving family of course.

What I wasn’t expecting was the accomplished sportswoman with elite sporting dreams, the anxiety, the major spelling struggles and the brutal honesty.

I was expecting the humour, the bad language and the in-depth look at the life of Em Rusciano from her childhood through to now and I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of enjoyment.

Usually I’m not really a memoir kinda gal, but I am glad I picked this one up. Most people would pick up the memoir of someone they are familiar with and admire, and that would probably change the reading experience, but I’m not most people.

My sister had a friend on the 2004 season of Australian Idol so I did watch some of it, I don’t remember seeing Em… actually I don’t remember any of it except that I watched a couple of episodes so I could vote. I’m not really into stand-up comedy and I don’t listen to the radio. Pretty much sums up all the places I wasn’t going to know of Em Rusciano, but having read Try Hard I certainly feel like I know her a lot better now and I’m glad of it.

Em takes us on a journey through her life from birth through to the writing of the book. Keeping in mind that Em is a successful stand up comedian you can expect the writing to be filled with humour, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. But the life of a stand-up comedian isn’t all laughs and it seems much of their material comes from the things that go wrong in life so you can expect a lot of that too.

Try Hard is the story of a woman with the strength to follow her dreams through near crippling anxiety, a woman not afraid to take us into the very depths of herself and what moulded her into the woman she is today.

Try Hard is not always said with admiration or affection, and quite often the connotation is that it’s not really a good thing. I remember Try Hard being said quite negatively in the school yard to those who were seen to be trying too hard to pass themselves off as something they are not. But that’s not the only type of Try Hard, and it’s certainly not Em’s brand of Try Hard; her brand of Try Hard is to go at everything in her life with everything she has and to be the absolute best she can and be the hardest on herself while she’s at it.


Yes, there are definitely chapters riddled with too much information, things you never really wanted to know about another woman but it’s there for a reason. It helps to paint the picture that is Em, to show all the facets of the woman she’s become.  She takes us through her childhood, her years as an athlete, presenting on radio, Australian Idol and her comedy shows. But more importantly than all of that she takes us inside her family, her friendships, her marriage and her children to where the true heart of her lies.

Em’s not afraid to tackle the hard times in her life and who helped get her through them. She’s not afraid to open her heart and soul, and tell us how much even writing about those times hurt.

Try Hard is interesting and insightful as well as entertaining; it paints a vivid picture of Em Rusciano and lets us in on her personal life as well as her career.

Fans of her work will love this but I think all women and all mothers will find something to take away from the read.

Em Rusciano can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Try Hard Tales from the Life of a Needy Overachiever is published by Simon & Schuster and available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Try Hard is book #60 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 20 of our lucky Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Try Hard Tales from the Life of a Needy Overachiever so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

22 thoughts on “Book Club: Try Hard Tales from the Life of a Needy Overachiever

  1. I loved this book. I would have considered myself a fan of Em prior to reading this book but I realised there was so much I didn’t know about her.

    She has gone through so much and achieved so much in her life so far. Which is really motivating for someone who doesn’t know what they want to do in the future.

    There is a great selection on pictures in the middle that are hilarious and one includes plenty of pictures of all her fabulous costumes.

    Would highly recommend for everyone to read.

  2. I was not overly excited with this book, especially the constant swearing throughout the whole book. The story of Em’s life is good but again literally peppered with foul language. Em is an extremely ‘high achiever’ (her words), personally I think she needs some deep therapy. Could explain why I have never found her comedy entertaining.
    The book tells the story of Em Rusciano and how she went from performing for friends and family, attending the Miss Sheila Fancypants School of Dance and to go on and become a contestant on Australian Idol (a show I am not fond of).
    A brand of humour that I just am not fond of.

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