Where Am I Now? by: Mara Wilson
4.5 stars out of 5
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.
Release Date: September 13, 2016
A few months after I found the video of Robin and me, it was taken down, apparently due to copyright infringement. I had to laugh. Most people have embarrassing videos of themselves as children. Few have theirs copyrighted by Twentieth Century Fox.
Mara Wilson: the really cute little girl from Mrs. Doubtfire, star of Matilda, and of the Miracle on 34th Street remake. This book was almost called K for Kid because of her role on the hit 90s TV show Melrose Place where she was the only kid on a very adult set. Wherever it is you know Mara Wilson from, you probably know she hasn’t been in the public eye in quite some time. What you don’t know is: where is she now?
Mara has had a blog for close to five years where she shares essays on a variety of topics. She follows that same essay format for her memoir writing an incredibly relatable book with those big Hollywood movies as a child being that one big difference. We explore Mara inside and out with her raw honesty on everything from anxiety, sexuality, OCD, the death of her mother as a young girl, her struggle with the “cute” word, mean girls, puberty, her breakup with Hollywood, insecurities, sibling relationships, finding ones path in life, and everything in between.
When a person is gone, all that’s left is a narrative. At some point, that narrative becomes myth. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s letting our mother’s death overshadow her life.
I felt Mara on such a deep level when she spoke of her mother going through cancer and her passing. Then I felt it again when she went into the discovery of her extreme anxiety and OCD and how she learned to cope with it. She wants to help people the same way Kissing Doorknobs helped her when she knew she was different and that her mind worked differently often thinking something was wrong with her because of all the worrying, the patterns, the anxiety. She wants people to take mental health care as seriously as they take care of their physical health (as they should). And she wants to help get the information out there for those who need it because you never know when it’s the information someone needs to completely change their life around - the way it did for Mara. I couldn’t help thinking how much I want to lend this to my little sister who I know will find it comforting with the things they have in common. Not to mention the chapter about her relationship with her younger sister.
It was rarely the hellhounds who said anything mean to me; they expressed no real malice toward me other than the occasional eye-roll. They were at the top and had nothing to gain by pushing me around. The ones who scared me, who still scare me, are the girls who see all other girls as competition, who see themselves as the persecuted ones, the ones the pretty and popular girls hate. When you believe you’re persecuted, you will believe anything you do is justified.
Such an enlightening view on mean girls. Mara digs into her female friendships from middle school to high school when they auditioned for show choir (the really big one Powerhouse that actually inspired Ryan Murphy to create Glee) and ultimately didn’t all make the same choir, so it tore them apart. She managed to fit in with a group of friends for a year until they pulled the mean girl move on Mara as well. If you’ve ever been bullied or tried to fit in, you’ll cringe at how relatable it is.
And as we all wanted and I’m sure you’re dying to know, there is a sweet letter to the character Matilda that goes into Mara’s experience with the character from the moment she read the book, through casting and filming, and even including tidbits from the reunion for the blu-ray release. Some of my favorite things included moments with director Danny DeVito and with the real-life actors from the movie. The character meant the world to both Mara and her mother who passed away during postproduction, so a love letter is a perfect way to explore her experience with the character.
She also has a chapter devoted to Robin Williams, a portrait of the man he was as she knew him, and how his death affected her. This reiterates her feelings on mental health being of utmost importance.
To be this truthful and honest is to be powerful. Mara Wilson should be proud.
I like alcohol, but I tend to forget it exists, and that I’m over twenty-one and can enjoy it whenever I please. Depriving myself of joys is one of my subconscious’s great joys. I also tend to forget I have ice cream in my freezer, and about the entire concept of masturbation.