Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson



"Pitch perfect" is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days, but it is an apt description for WHERE AM I NOW? Matilda is one of my two all-time favorite movies (the other one is Princess Bride, in case you were wondering), and like many others, I often wondered what happened to the talented young actress who went from being in everything to being in nothing. Then I found out she had a Twitter, where I began quietly stalking her posts, and I found to my delight that not only was she talented, she was also funny - and smart. From her Twitter, I found out that she had an upcoming book of essays and well, you know the rest from there. I came, I saw, I lurked - and then I got the book.

Celebrity memoirs tend to fall into two categories - they're either (a) gossipy and ghost-written, relying on your guilty pleasure of watching famous people spill the tea to get you through the bad writing (and it does work - very well; I, myself, am not immune) or (b) very polite, very nice thank-you letters to everyone who made them famous, with a few agent-vetted anecdotes to make them seem a bit more approachable, but not too approachable (these are boring, but it's almost impossible to be mad at them, because they're so nice and so polite. Sometimes, though, there's a third category - authentic, relatable, quotable; an existentialist bible that you want to keep on your nightstand and highlight forever.

Mara Wilson manages to cover a wide array of topics, detailing her journey into fame and her journey out of it. She talks about her work on Matilda, and how much she loved her role, and lived her role; she talks about her hang-ups about sex; she talks about being a character actor for "adorable quirky child", and the anxiety she felt when she became too old and too plain to land adolescent leading roles (in fact she lost three to Kristen Stewart, which bums me out a little, because Mara would have been amazing in Speak); she talks about her experience with OCD and anxiety, and about being bullied in high school; she talks about first love; she talks about Robin Williams, and how his death affected her; and she talks about what it's like to finally find your people, and feel like you belong.

I don't really have words to talk about how this book touched me, and how powerfully I related to some of the chapters. The way Mara talks about the book KISSING DOORKNOBS, and feeling like she was reading about herself - that's kind of how I felt about reading WHERE AM I NOW? (Minus the fame, and various other parts.) This was such an honest, eloquent memoir, and finishing it was like saying goodbye to a friend you haven't seen in a while. It was bittersweet: it was perfect.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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