New York: HarperCollins, 2023
512 pp. $40 (paperback)

In a world where I feel so small, I can’t stop thinking big. —Rush.1

How did a self-described “loner” grow up to front one of the most successful progressive rock bands of all time? That fascinating story is the subject of Geddy Lee’s engrossing new autobiography, My Effin’ Life.

The book is far more than a history of the Rush front man’s career. Rather, it is a beautifully honest exploration of how he reacted to the many challenges and successes he’s encountered. Through Lee’s interesting and inspiring stories, two of his virtues shine: his unwavering integrity in the face of pressure to compromise and a consistently positive attitude about life even in the darkest of times.

Lee had a difficult childhood. The son of Jewish immigrants in 1960s Toronto, he was subject to frequent anti-Semitic abuse, and he struggled to connect with other children. “I was something of a loner, a quiet kid who rarely got into trouble,” he recalls (20). Alongside his own stinging experiences of anti-Semitism, he was pained by his mother’s stories of living through the Holocaust, during which she was imprisoned in Auschwitz and several other concentration camps. To make matters worse, Lee’s father (who also survived the camps but preferred not to talk about such experiences) died when he was a teenager.

Lee’s strongly religious mother initially rejected his choice to become a musician, leading to a “cold war” between them, but his mind was set. “I was scared, but resolute,” he relays. “I had to conjure a proper living now from nothing but a dream and a band” (119). But as he continued to develop his musical career, his mother came somewhat to accept his choice.

Although his parents raised him to practice Judaism, he struggled to accept the religion. When he saw his father break kosher rules by eating bacon and eggs, it helped him realize that “these religious rules are all bullshit.” In time, he adopted what he calls a “humanistic philosophy,” rejecting belief in God (31).

Lee describes his changing attitude toward his Jewish heritage as a young man . . .

In his new autobiography, My Effin' Life, Geddy Lee leaves readers with a strong sense that no matter how bad things get, it’s always worth staying positive and producing beautiful art.
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1. Rush, “Caravan,” Clockwork Angels, Roadrunner Records, June 12, 2012.

2. “Rush Frontman Geddy Lee—‘Any Extreme Religious Behavior Is Bad, Whether It Be Middle East or the Middle West,’” Brave Words, July 9, 2007,

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