“Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame” by Mara Wilson (2016)
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography
Page Length: 259 pages (paperback edition)
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. (description from Goodreads)
Where Am I Now? a collection of essays by the actress Mara Wilson about her life in Hollywood, childhood, and personal experiences of growing up. Each section of the book is set up as a reflection piece based on a certain subject, a pivotal event, and different stages of her life. The book is mixed with tales about her normal, everyday life as well as the ups and down of living a life in the spotlight.
Mara’s voice feels very real, down to earth, and genuine throughout the entire book. Each of her stories will either make you laugh or cry, but overall the book is heartwarming. In the book, she talks a lot about her struggles with being in the public eye at a young age and how that affected her. As a child she was labeled as “cute”, being typecast into specific roles and when puberty hit she lost roles because she was becoming “too much” of a teenager/young woman.
The reason i sought out this book was to read her experiences of filming Matilda (in my list top 10 childhood favorite films ever) which ended up being my favorite essay to read. In this specific essay, she writes a heartfelt letter to the beloved character, wishing to be her and realizes (that as an adult) how much that movie’s story meant to little girls. For me, Matilda was sort a childhood hero. I have always been a voracious reader and the kid that was always the “odd one out”. I resonated with the character because I saw so much of myself in Matilda, plus I admired that she always kept true to who she was.
While her book is endearing, it’s also raw and eye opening. She shares her struggle of losing her mom to cancer and how it affected her (losing a mother figure). She also shares her experiences with mental illness when she discusses her diagnosis of OCD.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I liked learning more about Mara’s work in acting as reading about her personal life. The entire book fees like a storyteller’s work. Mara shares her stories with you without talking at you. It makes the readers ease into the text very comfortably. At the end of the book she lets’ her readers know that it is okay to be human. Don’t be afraid make mistakes, , face your fears, and most importantly the lesson of always staying true to yourself (you don’t have to be the “cool kid” in the room).