Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson || Book Review

Author: Mara Wilson the former child star of Matilda, Mrs Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street turned writer/comedian/witty commentator on twitter. She lives the happy life of obscurity in the Big Apple and it seems to suit her just fine.

Rating: ****


She’s the child star we all know and love and now the actress turned writer we should know and love some more!

The moment I heard that Mara Wilson had written a book and it was coming to the UK I had to pre-order it. Amazon’s ‘next day guarantee’ is a load of crap, as it took two weeks to arrive from the day of publication in the UK, but it was worth the wait.

I read it in two days. Four pleasant yet emotional train trips later and I was nodding in admiration of Mara Wilson.

As a child I wanted to be like her – in all of her movies from Matilda to A Simple Wish - yet as a 21 year old navigating a big-city on a minimum office-wage with a lack of social skills and a head full of the weirdest dreams, I value her work even more.

I’m gushing a little, but why not. The book itself, a witty memoir of sorts, resonated with me. I finished it feeling like the British counterpart of Mara Wilson, which may or may not be an unintentional insult since the book itself leaves a feeling that Mara Wilson does not wish to be emanated, nor appreciated in some ways, but simply heard for what she herself has to say.

The book has no set chronological feeling – at least it doesn’t feel like it – it’s more like a diary of jumbled thoughts in which each chapter was a surprise. But to have an entire chapter about show-choir, where all I imagined was Glee gone wild, and then the poignancy of Mara’s beautiful blogpost after Robin William’s untimely death was a little jarring.

That being said you cannot discount the book for originality and humour even in the face of some heart-rending, troublesome things.

The book deals with abject loneliness, depression, OCD, suicide and the awful passing of Mara’s mother from cancer. She approached all the topics with honesty, which was sometimes blinding, but also restraint in some places. It is her memoirs so she can pick and choose, but there were moments I wanted to know more, particularly with regards to the path of recovery when Mara was diagnosed with depression and OCD at the tender age of 12.

It is a private disorder, in the sense that it effects everyone differently, and to discuss it openly is to reveal your inner self entirely. But the recovery process is often neglected in my eyes – people discuss the troubles of having mental illnesses and the struggle to be diagnosed yet, as I felt with Where I Am Now, the recovery seems quick and simple. When I know it is not.

The criticisms are minor however.

And like I said before the similarities and admiration I have for Mara have grown over the years.

I too mistake a posh, or sometimes not so posh, British accents for personality – and often I swap with Mara and do the same with an American accent – I watch way too much British TV when I’m down or bored. I crave good writing experiences and am quickly disillusioned with my own work so crave some sort of return from an audience and/or writing group. I wrote stories as a child until my fingernails dug into my palms and acted out so many ‘plays’ for friends and family that it became tiresome for them before I was 4 years old!

All of these experiences and more have occurred to me and equally to Mara, and whilst each experience will have a difference – we’re entirely different people still – the fact that I am not alone in some of my oddities and tendencies makes me appreciate Mara little more. Here is a role-model, here is a written friend.
Rights attributed to Ari Scott, of AriScott.com.

That brings me onto the topic of friends that Mara discusses readily within her memoirs. The sense of happiness on the set of Matilda was readily supplied and if you read this book alone for the titbits and backstage information of filming the cult classic then you won’t be disappointed.

I was very intrigued by the friendships and the loss of friends that Mara describes in her book. The loss of friends is something I can resolute with whole-heartedly; the best friend turned bitch is entirely recognisable on my end. Perhaps it occurs to all teenage girls? After all children are the nastiest people on the planet (I sound very Trunchball-like) but it’s true.

Children – from toddler to teen – are wicked. We say awful things to one another, turn on one another and cannot except one another unless we are exactly the same it seems! Even Mara, the child star who you’d think would be popular suffered greatly and it only goes to serve her purpose to humanise herself.

She is not ‘that girl off the TV’ she’s Mara Wilson. A female in New York, among other things also.

All in all, the way Mara approaches life and depict events as she judges/sees them are all things that resonate with me. She is chronicler of the millennial age and a voice of mental illness awareness, feminism and even hopes and dreams.

If I am half as courageous, honest and deep as Mara Wilson I would feel proud of myself. I can only hope that she does too.

Happy Reading!


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