Reviews & praise for
Last Girl Before Freeway
The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers
"This comprehensive biography painstakingly charts the late Joan Rivers’s journey from growing up in Westchester, N.Y....to succeeding in comedy and becoming a veritable polymath of the business and entertainment worlds. Through interviews with family, staff, and comedy insiders, Vanity Fair contributing editor Bennetts (THE FEMININE MISTAKE) draws a portrait of the groundbreaking comedienne that is both deep and sweeping... Bennetts’s reporting gives readers unparalleled access to her subject, which comedy fans, and those just fascinated by superstardom, will greatly enjoy."
–PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOKS, November 2016
"In this first detailed biography of Rivers since her death, Bennetts (THE FEMININE MISTAKE) reveals the woman behind the schtick. It's all here–growing up in middle-class Larchmont, NY, with a mother who wanted her to give up comedy and get married, her big break on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show and their subsequent feud, the suicide of her husband–all of that compelled Rivers to work, work, work. She decided that if she couldn't be loved because she was pretty, she'd be loved because she was funny... Celebrity mavens and fans of well-written biographies will enjoy this title."
–LIBRARY JOURNAL, September 1, 2016
“Reading this book will make you a more interesting person at parties.”
"There's a lot to discuss when it comes to the polarizing Joan Rivers–feuds, plastic surgeries, familial turmoil–and Bennetts covers it all with aplomb. No matter how you feel about Rivers, reading this book will give you a better understanding of a woman who fought for space in a male-owned industry. Oh, and you'll laugh, too."
–MARIE CLAIRE, November 2016
"Writer Leslie Bennetts must have felt plumb tuckered out after researching, assembling and writing LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY. Doing a biography of Rivers meant tracking a tornado for decades as it zigzagged across the country and back, a tireless whirlwind of creative destruction that spun sacred cows airborne."
–VANITY FAIR, November 2016
"'Joan Rivers, devastated by her ugly feud with one-time mentor Johnny Carson and the shocking suicide of her husband, sat alone in her bed with a gun in her hand. Only the thought of her pet Yorkie kept the comedian from pulling the trigger.' The startling story is spun in Vanity Fair contributor Leslie Bennetts’ biography LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY, where the author examines the polarizing Rivers’ life in almost forensic detail. It’s an impressive, and telling, account."
–NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, October 29, 2016
"Prepare for revelation. In her dishy new biography LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY: THE LIFE, LOVES, LOSSES, AND LIBERATION OF JOAN RIVERS (Little, Brown and Company), Leslie Bennetts details the late comedy queen’s dizzying highs (Emmy wins, peerless one-liners) and devastating lows (her husband’s suicide)."
–OUT MAGAZINE, October 12, 2016
“UNDENIABLY DISHY… A FAT AND FULL BOOK THAT WILL SATISFY FANS WHO WANT ALL OF JOAN IN ONE PLACE.”
"One hell of a book. A terrific read from start to finish, it captures Joan completely. Five stars."
–LARRY KING, television and radio host
"You'll be shocked by the revelations in Leslie Bennetts' irresistible biography."
–GLORIA STEINEM, author of MY LIFE ON THE ROAD
"Leslie Bennetts tells her story in riveting, surprising, heartrending, and hilarious detail."
–TINA BROWN, author of THE DIANA CHRONICLES
"Author Leslie Bennetts asks provocative questions in her quest to discover what made Rivers tick in LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY, a highly readable new biography... What emerges through Bennetts’ adept reporting is a portrait of a complicated, contradictory figure: a driven woman who was both kind (in private) and cruel (in public); a trailblazer for women’s comedy who wasn’t a feminist; and a huge success who was never satisfied or felt she received her due... Joan Rivers, Bennetts argues, was a pioneer... Bennetts’ clear-eyed biography shows why this ambitious, “stubbornly paradoxical” woman who “wasn’t ready to cede the spotlight” continues to command our attention."
–USA TODAY, November 14, 2016
"Bennetts, a longtime Vanity Fair and former New York Times reporter, provides new insight into the comic’s later life... LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY accurately reflects the conundrum that was Joan Rivers. Fat-shaming feminist, who trash talked everyone in Hollywood but quietly donated millions to charity and took loving care of her staff and friends. A girl from Long Island who lived in one of the most luxurious Versailles palaces in Manhattan, who dressed in Chanel and sold bumblebee pins on QVC."
–BUFFALO NEWS, November 11, 2016