Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Published by Penguin Books on September 13, 2016
cw: maternal death, anxiety, OCD
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 been a fan of Mara Wilson for ages now. Like almost everyone else, I loved her in Matilda, but I kind of lost track of her after that. A few years ago, I ended up following her on Twitter and found myself deeply admiring the person she had grown into. She’s witty, deeply into social justice, and has a take-no-shit attitude that I love. So when I heard Where Am I Now? was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Of course, it took me a while to actually get to it, but I’m really glad I did!
Being a celebrity meant being vulnerable. It meant my face, my body, even my death were for public consumption — none of them was mine alone.
Where Am I Now? is a series of stories and essays about Mara’s life. Each chapter has a theme, usually one that revolves around something specific that she experienced. She covers everything from child acting, to high school girls, to the death of her mother. Somehow she’s managed to capture the perfect mix of humor and solemnity, speaking about grave topics with grace.
There must have been days when I did more, but I have no memory of them.
The sections that resonated most with me were about Mara’s experiences with mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While I don’t have any personal experience with OCD, my depression and anxiety both began in childhood and while reading, I kept gaping at sentences that I felt described my past self perfectly.
This ended up being a very quick read for me (two or three days?) and I can see this becoming one of my most highly-recommended books. I think that Mara’s writing is very accessible, and that this is something that can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Definitely pick it up if you get a chance!