The New York Times review quote on the cover, while intentionally good, only makes me disagree with it. Mindy Kaling is not “like Tina Fey’s little sister.” Mindy Kaling is Mindy Kaling.
Kaling herself pokes fun at this in her opening chapter. Answering a probably typical question about her book, “This sounds okay, but not as good as Tina Fey’s book. Why isn’t this more like Tina Fey’s book?”she says, “I know, man. Tina’s awesome.”
One of the most pleasant impressions from this book was of intelligence and humour, which permeated the pages, easily mixing and trading places with each other in Kaling’s written delivery. She is truthful and frank, but, to a reader’s relief, neither coarse nor crude.
Most good memoirs seem to have a common denominator: witty and natural self-deprecation. Which in turn might also be a form of owning being bullied in the past, another thing the authors of said memoirs often have in common. Kaling is able to laugh at parts of her childhood and youth which are, from a matter-of-fact point of view, not funny at all, but she is in control of her narrative and easily shares the laughter with her readers. A description of a horrifying incident had me in unexpected stitches: “The sight of a fat child falling, lifeless, from a high distance into a pond, is kind of an amazing sight, I’ll bet.” More so it wasn’t due to the wording, but to the fact that Kaling was being humorous and still making room for a serious statement in an enganging way.
She pauses plenty of times for self-reflection, and you wait for it every now and then, you come to expect that paragraph that makes you either nod or shake your head, but you understand it. “A note about me: I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.”
Kaling is yet another female voice with a sense of self expressing hope for something. When reading, inner responses range from, “Girl, why?!” to “Yes, same here!” “I’m kind of a mess,” she admits candidly. But a successful, hard-working, driven mess. Taken separately from the TV shows she was involved in, the book in itself also showcases how Kaling creates and carries her own project. She is definitely as chatty as she is known to be, but her chatter is clear-spoken and attention-grabbing.
An ultimately amusing and touching non-fiction read, which I would pick up again.
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