Book Review: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (Mara Wilson)
Format: Audible Audio
Length: 7hrs 22 mins
Release Date: September 13th 2016
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.
I’ve never listened to an audiobook before or read an autobiography/memoir so this was doubly new to me. It was different to my usual reading experience and I really enjoyed it. I also won this book in a giveaway from The Candid Cover so big thanks to her 🙂
Like most people, I know Mara Wilson from Matilda and a handful of other films from my childhood. I didn’t really keep up with what she did after, though I heard from various people that she did cool/funny stuff on and off the internet. I’m not sure why I decided I wanted this to be my first audiobook, but when I saw it I just knew I wanted to read/hear it.
In the book, Mara Wilson narrates events from various points in her life, from growing up on film sets, her young views on sex and relationships, and her struggles with mental illness. There’s also a section on Robin Williams that was extremely poignant and almost brought me to tears.
The parts that resonated with me most were when she talks about her experiences with OCD and depression. These are things that are still commonly misunderstood, turned into the butt of jokes on the internet, and just generally not talked about openly enough. Wilson approaches these topics with a refreshing honesty and it was helpful to hear someone talk about something I’ve had some experience with too.
The other bit that stuck with me was how people react to what she looks like today. When ‘What do they look like now?’ articles pop up on the internet, people often seem angry that Mara Wilson isn’t still a cute toothy 8 year old. It’s another of those things that show how much women are judged on their appearance rather than their achievements and personality. It also shows how people feel entitled to pass judgement on celebrities: Wilson’s paragraph on what she’d say to someone who told her how to ‘fix’ her looks was inspiring and it just made me admire her more.
This book is full of witty and touching stories, wonderfully narrated by Mara Wilson. It’ll make you laugh and make you stop and think, and I’d fully recommend it.