Monday, February 8, 2016

Mindy 2.0


Last year I read one of my daughter’s books: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.  Of course, I found it terribly amusing and giggled my way through the writer's clever observations and adoring self-awareness. (I still laugh when I think of certain excerpts, like how she boasts of her birth weight if the topic of weight enters the conversation. Only six pounds when I was born!)

When my coworker brought me her second book, “Why Not Me?”, I was eager to jump in her second query-titled book. I had just read two dramatic thrillers and was ready to laugh. And laugh I did.

Mindy, once again, entertains with her pithy observations that range from the privileges of Hollywood starlets, friendship crushes, and the fuss about weight. Mindy's authenticity enchants. She's acutely aware of superficiality, but doesn't remove herself from its trappings. To look gorgeous in pictures, never sit up straight. Do not allow your arms to lie flat against your body–a tip from Kim Kardashian. I must admit...brilliant. Sure shallow. But brilliant.

Don't think there isn't sustenance in this book. One of my favorite anecdotes is when Mindy is overlooked as an Emmy nominee, and must announce the nominations anyway. She candidly confesses her inner turmoil. As she articulated her anger, I had visions of Kelly Kapoor coming unglued. (I almost couldn't wait!) But Mindy was better than that. She didn't want to act civil, but she understood the power of acting gracious.

The joy of reading comedy is how it can take you by surprise. In the middle of the book, we find a compelling love story. After I read the chapter, I realized how Mindy was showing off her writing chops. Suspense. Longing. Dynamic characters like the Obamas. Disillusionment. Unrequited love. Of course, I recognized this pattern from her TV resume. Nonetheless, the story had me captivated. I was only disappointed not to see a photo of “Will.” There were so many other great photos! Why not Will? Does it have anything to do with BJ Novak? And her confusing relationship with him? Maybe! (I can't wait to read Mindy's post wedding book.)

There were lots more hilarious and truly interesting parts. Her opinion of sex scenes. Her mother's influence. The diagram of her brain and the amount of it devoted to her phone charger. But I have to admit, my favorite part of the book is the ending. Not because I wanted it to end. It's because I found her thoughts profound.

Mindy Kaling addresses confidence after brushing through a young teenage girl's inquiry on the topic.  She then philosophizes on her response and comes up with an important insight. Her confidence has been born from her sense of entitlement. Now, before you raise your eyebrow, keep reading. Entitlement has a bad rap right now–mostly because so many people feel entitled because they see other people have what they want. But Kaling makes a salient point: there's nothing wrong with feeling entitled as long as you deserve it. Mindy has worked extremely hard to achieve the success she's obtained. She tells a story about receiving a fIuff award for cutest clothes at a youth basketball camp. Her mother hid it, explaining that it wasn't a deserving award. It was a participation award. The formula is so simple, yet so great: Work hard. Achieve success. Confidence will certainly appear. I had my 14-year-old son read this section, because the advice is some of the best you can give your kid. Mindy probably didn't realize it, but the book is really a parenting manual.

I hesitated to write everything I just did, because I didn't want to spoil the book for you. But believe me, there's much more fodder to enjoy. You will undoubtedly fall in love with Mind. One chapter stars off with a Holden Caulfield quote from The Catcher in the Rye: 

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you with the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him on the phone whenever you felt like it."

Talk about foreboding. Maybe I'll tweet her @mindykaling. I could use more parenting advice.