Mariel’s life was an odd seesaw of entitlement and dysfunction. Her famous grandfather killed himself only months before she was born, yet there were expectations placed on her as a “Hemingway.” Everyone in her family suffered from something: alcoholism, depression, mental illness.
Mariel became the superficial functional member of this very dysfunctional group. But being the peacemaker in a family like this was costly, and she developed her own set of problems; obsessive compulsive disorder that spawned numerous eating disorders.
The problems around her intensified, and as Mariel tried to build a film career, she also struggled to assist her family and buttress a difficult marriage. The beauty of this book is in the revelation that fame and fortune do not exclude people from pain and tragedy. The real story is how you rebuild your life and choose to live. This is an eloquently told story of survival and strength. Narrated by the author.
Kaling spends a significant portion of the book discussing her body image. She is often praised in the media for being a confident curvy woman. She tells a story of one journalist who comments over breakfast “don’t worry about the calories much, do you Mindy?”. She is baffled at why people are so surprised to see someone who looks like her on TV or why it is so shocking that she would put jam on her toast.
She also dishes on the men in her life and her working struggles. She reflects on her rise through the industry and gaining confidence as a writer and actress. The last essay of the audiobook discusses how to be a confident woman. She provides very smart, witty comments and to her it comes down to hard work.
The book is like an honest conversation with a friend. While she is funny, she is also really smart and insightful. One of the final chapters discusses the things she worries about. The list reveals an emotional side with worries like “will I forget my mother’s voice”. Kaling lost her mother to pancreatic cancer in 2012.
I enjoyed reading Paula McClain’s historical fiction novel, Circling the Sun, about an adventurous woman who fought against stereotypes and worked hard at her endeavors. It was also eye-opening to read about a time of European settlers in Africa. Those who read Out of Africa or saw the movie will recognize this storyline as Beryl had a long-term complicated friendship with the author Isak Dinesen (Baroness Karen Blixen in the book).
I listened to this story in audiobook format and appreciated hearing this narrator’s voice with the added important element of proper pronunciations for unfamiliar names and places.
Author David Adam is intimately knowledgeable about OCD as he has experienced it for twenty years. He weaves many narratives into this story about his personal obsessions and compulsions, and will win over readers with the candid retrospect of his experiences.
But it is more than just a journey into the complicated tangle of ideas in his head. Adam also details the psychological, social and scientific aspects and reveals the research and treatments that have been used and are currently used for sufferers of this condition. He also speaks to the historical struggle to classify OCD; there was often conflict over its origin as a behavioral or mental disorder.
Insightful and absorbing, this book will enlighten with its fresh perspective.