August 6, 2018

Book Review: Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Where Am I Now?
True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame

by Mara Wilson

Genre: Celebrity Memoir, Humor
Publisher: Penguin Books
Length: 259 pages
Published: September 13, 2016
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

My Goodreads Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"For readers of Lena Dunham, Allie Brosh and Roxane Gay, this funny, poignant, daringly honest collection of personal essays introduces Mara Wilson—the former child actress best known for her starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire—as a brilliant new chronicler of the experience that is growing up young and female.

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now? introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice."


"If you can affect someone when they're young, you are in their hearts forever."


My Book Review:

Mara Wilson's Where Am I Now? is most engaging when she is writing about her childhood celebrity and her relationships with both the actors and characters that informed her youth, but this makes up only about half of the text.

The memoir is saddest when Wilson writes a letter to the character Matilda to tell her how much she meant to her at the time her mother died.

The book is creepiest when Wilson talks about Hollywood's perverse sexualization of child stars. Wilson writes that this is part of the reason she stopped acting, because the acting industry did not consider her to be beautiful enough. I believe that in sharing these experiences, Wilson hopes this will stop happening to other child actors.

In her memoir, Wilson details how she has dealt with lifelong worries, fears, paranoias, and OCD as she has moved from child star to teenager to adult. The second half of the book feels like filler (there is an entire chapter on show choir), with the only exception being a small chapter on her love for Robin Williams and her feelings about his death which was undoubtedly upsetting. As audiences read the book, it is more interesting to hear Wilson talk about her childhood--the reason audiences are drawn to this title in the first place--than when she writes about her adulthood and dating life. In part this is due to the fact that those narratives do not match the representation Wilson has just provided: she describes herself as having a quirky sense of humor and liking to tell funny stories, but these later chapters are neither uniquely engaging nor humorous.

Overall, the book is okay, but a little disappointing.

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