I was so happy to get a copy of the audiobook version of Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? I listened to her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and enjoyed it. Audio is the way to go.
In Why Not Me? Mindy wishes the reader to get to know her better. Through a series of essays, Mindy talks about her experiences in Hollywood and with the press, her relationships, dreams, and fears. Since her first book, Mindy has gone on to leave The Office and star in her own series. Part of this memoir explains why she left a successful show to take a chance on her own.
She talks about how her life has changed since becoming “a little bit famous” from the things she can no longer get away with to the things that have made her life better. She speaks candidly about her humbling feelings about being a role model to young women, especially young women of colour. The title essay “Why Not Me?” is a letter to a young Indian girl who asks her where her confidence comes from. Her answer is an interesting one: you have to earn it.
Her Hollywood experiences and her glamorous brushes with very famous people are entertaining, but the best essays are the ones where she is sincere about her friendships. She tells a touching story about her friend BJ Novak* that put a lump in my throat. She discusses why she hates weddings: it means the friendship will never be what it once was. She tells a story of Greta, a Hollywood fairy godfriend who swooped into her life briefly only to flutter away four months later. That break up left her feeling worse than any break up with a guy.
There are a couple of sections that are different from her essays. One is an imagined email exchange between a “sliding doors” version of herself as a Latin teacher and a gruff older colleague. (Spoiler alert: They fall in love.) The second is something I had to see for myself if it was real: her commencement speech to the 2014 graduating class of Harvard law students. It’s in the book nearly verbatim.
Probably the only essay I didn’t enjoy was the one about the Secret Serviceman she dated. I felt like her writing staff did about it. I lost interest. It didn’t go anywhere.
Overall Why Not Me? is a better memoir than Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy has done a lot in the years since then. She’s gone from Kelly Kapoor, a side character in someone else’s sitcom to Mindy Lahiri, heroine front and center. In a way, the arc reflects her own life. She’s gained in confidence, gone from nervous twenty-something writer to successful star of her own show. I hope great things continue to happen for her. I do feel like I know her a little better now.
About the Audio: Mindy Kaling narrates her own book, of course. She’s funny and personable. I had to listen to it twice, though. She’s talks so fast!
*She convinced me to give BJ Novak’s writing a try. I put his book on hold at the library.
Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.