Biography & Memoir, Book Review

Book Review: Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

How do you go through an ordinary life when you were beloved in movies as a child but struggled to find roles as you aged? There is only a certain population of individuals who understand what that situation is like, and Mara Wilson is one of them. In her memoir, Wilson details her life working on movie sets as a child and suffering through life as she grew. From curiosity and loss to anxiety and sex, Mara lets the reader into her most intimate thoughts, memories, regrets, and lessons learned. Though maybe not the Hollywood story we expect to hear, Mara’s life is real and successful on its own.

While specific events that Wilson went through do not resonate with me personally, her thought processes, her worries, and her way of coping or understanding her anxiety-driven world struck a cord and I found myself understood as well. Just like Matilda understood me as a child, Mara understood me as an adult.

The movie Matilda came out when I was five years old, and from then on, Matilda was my idol. It is impossible to count the amount of times I saw that movie, or how much I adored Mara Wilson in any other role she played. At 26 years old, I have been a librarian for one month now, and I have Matilda, in part, to thank for that development. As a child, I would watch Matilda in awe as she dealt with cruelties and read her way to success. I wanted to be her; I wanted to make Matilda proud of me. So, I read and I learned and I created my own successes as I went through school. Naturally, though, as I aged, I lost track of that “phase” until a couple of years ago when I began studying to become a librarian which was an obstacle all its own. Upon (finally) getting a job offer, which was an emotional time, I recalled what made me want to become a librarian in the first place, and of all the reasons that came to mind, Matilda stood out from the pack. That is when I found out about this book and decided to read it.

I had never separated the two, and perhaps they are still one in my mind (as for many of us), but I respect Mara as her own person and I believe her incredibly well-written memoir does a great job of showing her humanity apart from Matilda and her career as a child actor. It’s not Matilda-all-grown-up, it is the individual, Mara Wilson, whose life we have been provided with and whose experiences give us a new perspective of a lifestyle (actors/actresses) Hollywood and the media caricature ever-so-lovingly (/sarcasm). As such, Wilson’s memoir does what the genre sets out to do, however, for me it also served as a great form of therapy as some books, but not all, are wont to do. Excellent storytelling, and blunt admittance make Where Am I Now? a great accomplishment, and I look forward to following Mara as she dazzles us with her wit and truth in the time to come.