Wednesday, February 15, 2012

REVIEW: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Published 2011 by Crown Archetype. Audiobook narrated by the author. Nonfiction. Memoir.

After Tina Fey's Bossypants was such a success last year (and continues to sell well, at least where I work), Mindy Kaling's memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) became the "it" celeb memoir of the 2011 holiday season and on. And I can see why. It's funny, cute and entertaining- like Kaling herself.

I listened to the audiobook version of Kaling's book, narrated by herself and a couple of other "character" voices. Kaling, a writer for and star of the TV show "The Office" recounts her high school and college years in New England (she grew up in the Boston area and attended Dartmouth College), post-college years making a go of comedy in New York City and her Broadway success with "Matt and Ben," a play she co-wrote and starred in with her best friend Brenda Withers. After the play, she moved to Hollywood and hit the big time with "The Office," a hit show based on the British TV show of the same name originally created by British comedian Ricky Gervais.

I don't watch "The Office" and while I know Kaling has legions of fans (one tweet from her was enough to sell out her Harvard Book Store appearance within hours), I guess I kind of don't get it. Based on the book alone, Kaling seems like a perfectly nice, perfectly ordinary young woman with a great job in Hollywood but not much else to distinguish her from all the other nice, ordinary, funny people out there. She's funny, and makes some insights about life and love but she also struck me as sheltered and princessy. Her lifetime of struggle with body image issues is a major theme but I have to admit a certain lack of sympathy for a woman who describes herself as "chubby" and then reveals she's a whopping size 8. That may count as fat inside a Hollywood bubble but that's not where most of us live. Or the standard by which we should evaluate our health and physical fitness.

So on balance I liked her book, and I enjoyed listening to her tell her own story; I just didn't think that story was anything special. She's fun in a Tina-Fey-lite kind of way, but if you enjoyed Bossypants I would think about why you enjoyed Bossypants before deciding to pick up Everyone. If you liked Fey's comedy and career highlights, you'll enjoy Kaling's; if you liked Fey's book for her maturity and smarts as well as her laughs, you might be more like me and find that Kaling's book has a little less to offer but is amusing enough nonetheless.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.