Academy AwardÂ®-winning actor Cate Blanchett joins author Lauren Hough in narrating the audiobook edition of Houghâ€™s Leaving Isnâ€™t the Hardest Thing. At once razor-sharp, profoundly brave, and often very, very funny, the essays in Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing interrogate our notions of what it means to live freely. Each piece is a reckoning: of survival, identity, and how to reclaim one’s past when carving out a future.
As an adult, Lauren Hough has had many identities: an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a cable guy, a bouncer at a gay club. As a child, however, she had none. Growing up as a member of the infamous cult The Children of God, Hough had her own self robbed from her. The cult took her all over the globe—to Germany, Japan, Texas, Chile—but it wasn’t until she finally left for good that Lauren understood she could have a life beyond “The Family.” Along the way, she’s loaded up her car and started over, trading one life for the next, until eventually she became what she always wanted to be: a writer.
â€śSurreal is a word Iâ€™ve been using a lot lately,â€ť Hough says of teaming up with Blanchett for the audiobook. â€śItâ€™s the only word I have to describe any of this—from my cable guy essay blowing up, to sitting in a studio, reading the words I wrote for the audiobook, my audiobook. Itâ€™s been a ride. I mean, all of this is so new and different, so completely opposite the life I knew, that every part of it, even losing my voice because Iâ€™m not used to talking this much is just f—ing fun. Surreal is also a good word to being able to text Cate and ask her if sheâ€™s ever considered doing an audiobook. You write these words in the dark, just hoping to connect, if only to yourself. I doubt Iâ€™ll have any words at all when I hear Cate Blanchett read these stories I wrote. Sheâ€™s been so tremendously generous and real. Iâ€™m incredibly honored and deeply grateful, and I am going to lose my damn mind.â€ť
Blanchett is a fan of Houghâ€™s writing, commenting: â€śLaurenâ€™s perspective on the world at large is so startling that one canâ€™t unsee, unhear or unread it. Her writing is a bugle call for the human spirit. Much like the woman herself. My conversations with Lauren over the last several years have been honest, raw and sidesplittingly funny, and I treasure her friendship and her penship beyond measure. Itâ€™s been a journey, indeed, from first reading her tweets and articles through to ingesting the galleys for Leaving Isnâ€™t the Hardest Thing. But speaking her words aloud was perhaps the greatest revelation of all. I well understood Laurenâ€™s hypnotic power as a storyteller, but in speaking her words, I truly understood the rhythmic heartbeat alive in every phrase. Aching to connect. Aching to be heard.â€ť