May 22, 2017

[Books] Where Am I Now? - Audible Review

Is it a sign of aging that I'm not getting into biographies more? Before the notion of reading about other people's lives didn't seem all that thrilling but now I find several biographies and autobiographies in my reading queue and thus today's review of Where Am I Now? True Stories of  Girlhood and Accidental Fame.

And there's something to be said Audible audio books when they're narrated by the authors. Sure the words of an author have a power on their own and should be able to carry through well enough. But the narration becomes something else when you hear the author recite the lines in the way he or she imagined them while writing them.

So now I'm getting hooked on Audible biographies and I'm glad that one of my first adventures was Mara Wilson's tales of her childhood and her struggles growing up "weird". And it's the kind of weird that I can very much relate to on many levels.

Synopsis: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame is part autobiography, part series of essays written by Mara Wilson. She's best remembered as the young actress who played the role of Matilda but this book is about more than just her life as a child actress.

The book is a very candid telling of Mara Wilson's life. Of course we first go through her early family life and the events that led to her getting cast in Matilda. We also hear stories of life on the set of some of her other projects like Mrs. Doubtfire with Robin Williams and even Melrose Place. these stories and realizations are poignant and fairly detailed and certainly fascinating.

But the book goes further to explore her life beyond her acting life. There's the stress of the Hollywood spotlight but there's also the stress of forever living in the shadow of your former career. Add in the other complications of teenage life including the various insecurities and neuroses and there's a whole lot of love and pain that went into the crafting of this book.

What I Liked: Mara Wilson's words are already amazingly powerful on their own as she writes with a very open and honest approach to things. She doesn't give you a detailed blow-by-blow of her every moment in those years but she is open and honest about her struggles and looks at key moments in her life to give us a better picture of what she's went through at the time. Her big chapter written as a sort of letter to Matilda as a character is probably one of the most powerful parts of the story.

Growing up is never easy, especially when you feel that you're one of the "weird" kids or something like that. And she captures the sense of teen awkwardness perfectly. I keep stressing this point, but I can't help but remark on just how candid and sincere the writing feels from start to finish. Add in Wilson's brilliant narration for this audio book really brings it home.

What Could Have Been Better: What can I really complain about here? There may be the fan mentality of wanting to know more about this or that portion of her life like tell us more about your relationship with the other Mrs. Doubtfire kids or tell us even more about Robin Williams. But then you can't really since she carefully curated what parts of her life went into this book and we have to respect those reasons.

There area also those bits that don't necessarily feel like they deserved as much detail, but again it's hard to comment. In many ways, one can't help but feel that writing this was more for Mara Wilson and not for potential readers, and that's not a bad thing at all. I could be totally wrong, but that's how much I respect this work.

TL;DR: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame is beautiful because of its honesty and that makes it all the more relatable. It's a story of growing up as a woman, growing up weird, and growing up as a person. Thus the book gets a solid 5 striking realizations in the book out of a possible 5.

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