Where Am I Now is Mara Wilson’s memoir – if you don’t remember, she’s the kid from Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire. It’s not a bad book despite the low rating (I’m torn between a 2 and a 3 but since I read it a few weeks ago and remember it with a feeling of mild annoyance, I guess I’m going to round down), it just has the same problems as every memoir by a young adult that I’ve ever read: a lack of/really odd sense of perspective, Very Important Lessons wrung out of trivial-seeming events, and an ending that doesn’t feel like a natural stopping place. I think that’s all pretty unavoidable when someone who’s life has honestly just begun is telling their life story (yes, I know – hello, youths!). It’s not her fault. It just makes for a very uneven reading experience: her mom’s death is given comparable weight to minute details of the goings-on within her high school theater clique. A brief experience dating a minor asshole is given considerable time and focus, and I really feel like if she wrote this book 10 years in the future it would barely be on her radar anymore. As for the ending, believe me, I understand that our lives do not always reach tidy “stopping points.” But someone who is, say, 50 and writing their memoir might realize that their life kind of completed a certain narrative arc at a certain point and end the book there, even if that point wasn’t…yesterday. Where Am I Now ends (spoilers forthcoming) pretty much as it was at any given point – Wilson trying to find her “scene,” but instead of acknowledging that she’s still figuring it out, she gets into the burlesque world for no particular reason and is finally home, the end. Again, if she wrote this ten years in the future I would bet that that interest would not even be on her radar anymore.
Despite all that, it was a very readable book and very fascinating to see what it was like to be a child star in a normal family within an acting town – I guess I figured any child stars would have a very unique school experience, but most of her peers are at least close enough to the entertainment industry that it’s not that glamorous to them, and her life is really not that different than most people’s. The ordinariness was fascinating because it was unexpected, but it doesn’t make for the most interesting book in the entire world.