Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Growing up as a young girl with divorced parents and a whole lot of emotional issues (which I later found out were actually panic disorder), I was obsessed with Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire. With my nose stuck in a new book every week, I longed to have magical powers just like Matilda, escape all my horrible emotions, and find my happily ever after. Watching Matilda walk to the library every day, stand up to the terrible Ms. Trunchible, and find a loving home with Ms. Honey gave me hope that I too would be ok. When I wasn’t watching Matilda, I was watching Mrs. Doubtfire and feeling confused as to why Daniel Hillard would go through all the trouble of dressing up as an old woman just to see his kids for a few hours every day when my dad wanted nothing to do with me. Both these movies remain two of my favourites to this day.

When I found out that Mara Wilson had written a book, I knew I had to read it and I’m so glad I did. In case you didn’t know, Mara Wilson played both the title character in Matilda and Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. My love for these movies was a major factor in why I wanted to read Wilson’s book. I’ll admit, I was curious to read about what she had been up to as I hadn’t really seen her in any films or television shows recently. After starting the book, my curiosity quickly turned into admiration. The honestly with which Wilson writes about her experiences as a child actor, her mother’s sickness and eventual death, and her own experience with mental illness is so empowering and beautiful. I admire her so much for her honestly and strength in not only writing this book, but sharing it with anyone who’ll read it.

As I turned each page, I kept seeing myself in Wilson. No, I didn’t star in any films when I was younger, but I did experience my grandmother’s battle with cancer and eventual death when I was 10. I too suffered (and suffer) from mental illness (and funnily enough, I was also prescribed Zoloft as my first way of managing my illness). I too felt like Robin Williams was like the father to me (even though I never met him). I too felt like an outsider most of my life.

I’m sure that others who read Wilson’s book will also feel some sort of kinship with her because of her experiences, and I think that’s one of the greatest things about Where Am I Now? — it’ll make you feel like you’re not alone and like your experiences aren’t one in a million and you’re not crazy for feeling anxious all the time. You’re just another person trying to make it through the crazy ups and downs of life.

I’ve already recommended Wilson’s book to just about everyone I’ve talked to, including my naturopath and I’ll continue to do so because not only is it an awesome coming-of-age/finding yourself story, it’s also the story of a woman living with mental illness. My favourite part of the book is when Mara is talking to one of her professors about her anxiety and her professor says, ‘”What I would suggest is you own yourself as an anxious person.”‘ Like Wilson, I think I’ll keep that as my philosophy on anxiety.

I could talk about how much I love this book forever, but I really don’t want to spoil it all for all your readers out there. So what I suggest is you get yourself a copy and snuggle in under a blanket with a cup of tea and read this awesome book!

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