Mia Wise, Staff Writer
“Why Not Me?” is a collection of short essays touching on various topics. Kaling describes her life in Hollywood, her job, her love life and her opinions on confidence, bringing a refreshing and humorous voice to each essay.
After reading her first book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”, I waited in anticipation for “Why Not Me?” and was not disappointed.
When reading Kaling’s books or watching “The Office” or “The Mindy Project,” it is easy to identify with the way she writes. She always brings a distinct voice to any project she works on, and that is why she is successful.
Each essay captivated me. I could not put down the book, which proved to be as humorous and well-written as her first with every page I turned.
Certain essays felt relatable and more like a conversation with a friend than an essay. Kaling seems down-to-earth, and it really shines throughout the book.
In her essay “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling’s gives a witty and candid description of on-screen beauty. From comparing herself to the Crypt Keeper when talking about her hair to learning to lurk in the shadows because lighting “is the real key to always looking beautiful,” Kaling writes openly about the amount of effort it takes to reach TV beauty standards.
In another essay, “Player,” Kaling describes a friendship she had that ended. She writes that any woman can attest to the truth that “there are not many relationships more powerful than that of two women who fall fast and deep into a friendship.” She writes openly about how heartbreaking it was “to be loved and left,” which makes this passage relatable for anyone who has experienced a lost friendship.
As in “Player,” Kaling describes numerous relationships in her life throughout the book. From her mentor Greg Daniels to her complicated relationship with B.J. Novak, Kaling does not hold back.
In the section entitled “Take This Job and Love It,” Kaling writes about her journey from a writer and actor for “The Office” to the creator and star of “The Mindy Project.” She discusses how she struggled to find a network willing to buy “The Mindy Project” and describes her normal workday. In this same vein, she details her 2014 Emmy snub in the essay “Bad Sport.”
I found this section about her work life interesting and inspiring. Kaling is extremely dedicated to her job, and it shows. A typical workday for her begins a 5 a.m. and ends at 12:30 a.m. It’s inspiring to read about how much effort she has put into her career and how important her work is to her.
In the final section of the book “All the Opinions You Will Ever Need,” Kaling discusses the media and her body and gives some advice on confidence. I felt this was the most powerful and engaging section because it read so honestly. Kaling’s voice felt the most present in this section.
The essay “Unlikely Leading Lady” begins with an anecdote about a journalist who, during an interview over brunch, wrote down everything Kaling ate and commented on whether or not she was careful with calories. This leads Kaling to talk about the complicated relationship she has with her body and trails into the next essay.
In the essay “I Am So Real,” she writes about how even though people congratulate her on not trying to conform to normal standards of beauty, she sometimes wants to conform. She tries juice cleanses and personal trainers, but she wants to be as body-positive as the girls who look up to her believe she is.
I loved this piece because Kaling tells it like it is. Many people have complicated relationships with their bodies. There are good days and there are bad days, which is what Kaling is trying to say. The media portrays her as being so brave for just being in her body, but the only reason Kaling stands out is because TV and film hardly represent the average female body type. I appreciated how honest she was about her relationship with her body: Sometimes she loves it, but other times she hates it and wants to change it.
In her final essay “Why Not Me?” Kaling gives advice on confidence, which she summarizes down to a quick couple of sentences. She writes, “Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”
I think that her thoughts on confidence are a little unusual, but better for that. When most people think of entitlement it is usually associated with arrogance, but the way Kaling describes it makes sense. If you work hard and know what you’re doing, you should feel entitled — or rather, pride and ownership — when it comes to your work.
“Why Not Me?” is a great follow-up to “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”. Kaling’s anecdotes and opinions on life are hilarious and will keep any fan laughing and turning pages.