#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

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Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Published by: Crown Archetype

Publishing date:  November 1st 2011

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Pages: 222

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is both funny and insightful at times. Some other times however, this book misses the mark by a lot. Comedians or people trying to be funny so often rely on making fun of marginalized groups and their struggles to make people laugh and, unfortunetly, Mindy Kaling ends up falling into this trap. She jokes about hate crimes, rape, throwing acid at people and she uses being depressed as a synonim to being sad. None of those things are okay, none of those things are funny and all of those things are problematic. On the other hand, she talks about body positivity and beauty standards, she talks about being the daughter of immigrants and she talks about beign a woman of color. She talks about all these things honestly and unapologetically. This book is full of these contradictions, it goes from trying to be funny by dealing with important subject in careless ways  to making thoughtful commentary on some other important issues. 

Beyond that, the more interesting part of this book is when Mindy talks about working as a writer. The chapters where she talks about her job are brilliant. She is insightful and entertaining; she talks about how success in college doesn’t always means success outside of it, how hard is to find a job as a writer, how you end up taking jobs that are of little interest to you, but also about good things like getting success for something you wrote or  getting to work with people that you admire and that help you be better at your job. Those parts of the book where she talks about the good and the bad of being a writer are what makes parts of this book captivating.

Nontheless, there are a lot of chapters that felt like they were just there to fill space. Instead of talking about writing and about her job, Kaling spends big part of this book talking about her childhood, her teen years, how much she doesn’t like sports and other random stuff. The main problem is that she addresses those subjects by trying to be funny but not completely succeding at it. She doesn’t talk enough about what she actually does, what made her famous and what made her book possible in the first place, instead she talk about a bunch of random stuff in a not so entertaining way. It would be much more fascintaing to hear anecdotes about her shooting The Office, about having writers block, about sexism in comedy, than hearing various anecdotes about how much she hates sports (there are a lot of these type of anecdote, like a lot of them!).

Overall, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is honest and insightful about the life of a writer. But when Kaling is not talking about writing, she often is neither funny nor captivating, and a lot of times, by trying to be funny she can be insensitive and hurtful.

Rating: 3 stars

Are you excited to read this book? Have you read it already? Did you like it? 

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