Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

There seems to be a Mindy Kaling-craze going around the world. I had no idea who she even was until last month, so decided to pick up her book to see what the raving's all about. It has the interesting, universally-applicable title of "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" and I found it to be a thoughtful, though not particularly funny or enriching read.

For those who haven't read these essay-types of celebrity-author books before, they're essentially a collection of vignettes that tell pieces of the author's life story while trying to relay some life lessons such as don't care what other people call you, know that there's life beyond high school, etc. And for those also unfamiliar with Mindy, she was a writer-actress on The Office who supposedly played a ditz and now has her own show called The Mindy Project.

Each chapter is structured as a separate essay in which she shares some past experience (like being overweight and bullied in high school) then draws connections to her modern day and what she learned from it. It goes in chronological order, so from her childhood through her days working at The Office.

Given her status as a comedy writer, I was hoping for some good laughs from this. Unfortunately, there's probably only a couple lines of truly hilarious prose. The rest is amusing and told with some stark humor, but felt rather uninspired and conventional. It boils down to relaying that she was fat as a youth, that her career took a while to build up, and that The Office changed her life. Nothing very original, and I can safely say you won't be learning any grand moral or career lessons here that you haven't heard in a million other places.

My main qualm was with the final few chapters. They were interesting in a strange, random way, but exceptionally pointless (e.g., here's a "chapter" with a bunch of Blackberry pics of my face taken while in the car!) It was pretty clear that she ran out of content (the chapters get progressively shorter and more meaningless) but the publisher forced her to bulllshit some stuff together for print. Honestly, if you're going to publish a book and sell it for profit, can you at least try to close gracefully and create some actual content for the finale?

Overall, I don't feel this book warrants a buy (too substance-less). I admire Mindy's fortitude and ability to pursue what she loves, but her brand of humor just doesn't do it for me. My advice is that unless you're a ginormous fan of hers, you should just check this out from the library. Really, you'll be through with it in a few hours and this will save you the trouble of wondering what to do with the copy afterwards.


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