Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Author: Mindy Kaling
Specs: 219 pages, Paperback
Publishing Info: Three Rivers Press, 2011
Diverse Elements: Written by Mindy Kaling, an Indian-American woman, and feminist as heck.
Summary: This is a collection of humorous essays, so hard to summarize, but overall is about Mindy Kaling’s teen and early adult life and foray into the world of Hollywood, including her early comedic influences, girl drama in high school, best friends in college, thoughts on romantic comedies, female stereotypes, the off-Broadway production of Matt and Ben, and writing for The Office. (I laughed so hard.)
What I Liked: Seriously, again, this made me laugh so hard. After reading Kindred, which was SO GOOD, but SO FRIGGING HEAAAAAVVVVVYYYYY, having something to laugh at (that also made me think) (and be excited to be a chick of the 90s) was such a healthy experience.
Kaling’s writing is authentic, full of personal voice, and kinda like, “I don’t give a f*** what anyone thinks, unless I do, in which case, God-I-gotta-get-over-myself and just live for what’s best for me.” She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, not even her own shortcomings, which is really refreshing.
What I Disliked: The chapter called “Jewish Guys.” She prefaces the chapter with the following:
“First, a disclaimer: I know many racist people say: ‘But some of my best friends are black!’ before they go off on a long, racist rant. This does not count as an excuse for racism anymore. I get it.I get it. However, I think I have a different circumstance. All of my best friends are Jewish. Doesn’t that let me say whatever I want? I sure hope so, because I have a lot to say.”
She then has different sections with labels like “DON’T BE SUCH HYPOCHONDRIACS,” “I HAVE A MOM, TOO,” and “NATALIE PORTMAN.” Not all the sections are that level of negative stereotyping, but still. No. It doesn’t let you say whatever you want. (If I were to read the book again, which is a strong possibility, I’d skip the whole chapter, which is how it received a lower rating than what I would have given without this chapter).
What I Loved: All the stuff where she makes fun of herself but then really hits on what’s important, like making friends with those who share your interests and not taking yourself too seriously. And the whole thing about how her career took off by her co-writing with her best friend a sketch called “Matt and Ben” which is about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck being friends in the city or something?
And I laughed so hard all the way through (except about Jewish guys). But there are definitely parts of this book that made me ponder stuff, about race and class and gender stereotypes and comic stereotyping and so much other great stuff.
“I’m the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.”
“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”
“If I’m at a party where I’m not enjoying myself, I will put some cookies in my jacket pocket and leave without saying good-bye.”
“Nothing gives you confidence like being a member of a small, weirdly specific, hard-to-find demographic.”
“This book will take you two days to read. Did you even see the cover? It’s mostly pink. If you’re reading this book every night for months, something is not right.”