A former child actor best known for her starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and out of place: as the only kid on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, a Valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and a grown-up the world still remembers as a little girl. Tackling everything from what she learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to discovering in adolescence that she was no longer “cute” enough for Hollywood, these essays chart her journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. They also illuminate universal struggles, like navigating love and loss, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Candid, insightful, moving, and hilarious, Where Am I Now? introduces Mara Wilson as a brilliant new chronicler of the experience that is growing up female.(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)
I was eager to read this debut novel, for many reasons. After recognizing Mara from some of my favorite movies, I wanted to discover who she really is. Most of us only know her as the adorable little girl on screen. I also wanted to know what it was like for her, living the life of a child celebrity, the sort of impression it made on her. If she harbored the same sort of passions, interests or concerns that I did, and still do, as an adult. Most of us want to know if we can identify and relate with a celebrity.
Mara is as down to earth as any one of us, even after she’d been thrust into the spotlight at such a tender age. The people she chooses to surrounds herself with and those who give her immense support are a testament to her never becoming bigger than herself. Remaining humble, even with the incredible opportunity she’d been given. And it shows. So much of what she has to say gives thanks to those who helped her, guided her into becoming the person she is today. Whether that’s parental guidance, friends, teachers, even those who weren’t the best influences ended up becoming some of the best teachers for her. Something to learn and grown from.
I appreciate how incredibly candid she is. In all honesty, I didn’t expect that. Maybe because I still envision her as the little girl from Matilda, or the baby sister in Mrs. Doubtfire. We often have this ideal image of someone, especially when it’s someone who’s had a certain persona that’s been presented to the general public. It’s apparent just how much she’s grown up, a uniquely talented and brilliant individual. Her own person.
While Mara provides plenty of background stories related to the movies and television shows she’d been part of, a lot of what she talks about relates to her own personal struggles and moments of clarity. Having felt as though she’s a square peg amidst a sea of circles, it’s in finding her own path in life and gaining personal acceptance that makes Where Am I Now? so inspirational. So many of us can identify with her struggles, an aid in finding our own voice, when sometimes it might feel as though it’s too difficult a task.
Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central