I wasn’t initially going to get this book. While I’ve seen Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda, possibly the two films that Mara Wilson is most famous for, I haven’t really watched any of the others she was a child star in, nor do I follow her Twitter or writing career as an adult. It just didn’t seem like this would be all that interesting to me. Nonetheless, this book got a lot of positive write-ups from people with good taste, including Patrick Rothfuss and Wil Wheaton (himself a child star once upon a time) and several of my Goodreads friends. I do like an entertaining audio book, so I changed my mind and used a credit on it. Now I’m glad I did.
As with a lot of celebrity autobiographies, Ms. Wilson reads the book herself, and she has a very wry and self-deprecating way of telling the stories about herself. As she reveals later in the book that one of the things she does for a living now is storytelling, it should come as no surprise that this is a well-told book. The book is an anthology of observations, many dealing with Ms. Wilson’s childhood, not just as a child actress, but also dealing with her anxiety and OCD, the death of her mother and how and why she made the choice to give up acting when she became a teenager. There’s an open letter to Matilda, the character she is most famous for, and there are stories about her college years and her writing as an adult. The chapter dealing with her mother’s death and how it feels growing up without a mother, even though she seems to have a lovely stepmother; the one where she talks about determining the fairly severe levels of her OCD, not to mention the one where she talks about Robin Williams and learning about his death were probably the ones that affected me the most.
The reason this book doesn’t quite get one of my highest rating is that it really is quite short. I was surprised at how quickly it was finished, and some of the stories are just not all that interesting and felt a bit like filler. This book was written before Ms. Wilson came out openly as bisexual, and as others have already pointed out in their reviews, I suspect some of the chapters would may have been written a bit differently if this was public knowledge. It’s a good book, and Wilson is a witty story teller. While not on the same level as Craig Ferguson‘s or Amy Poehler‘s books, it was stil a good read.
Judging a book by its cover: It’s a fairly simple cover, and shows Mara Wilson as she is probably most well-known and recognised. As a little girl, from her role as Matilda. I suspect most people don’t know what Wilson looks like as an adult (I had to do a Google image search), so putting one of her most iconic images on the cover of a book that deals with her life as a child star, and has several chapters dealing with Matilda, it seems like good marketing strategy. I know she says in the book that she hates being called cute, but she really was.
Crossposted on my blog.