Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

With this, it becomes official.   It has been whispered in the hallways of your work or school, you have remarked on it over drinks.   But with the publication of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) the zeitgeist has officially rolled over, such that …

Being able to say you were some brand of geek is now essential for future success.   If you haven’t been capitalizing on your grade 7 trauma, you need to get on it.   If you are one of those people who didn’t suffer the aforementioned, keep it to your damn self, as this will only hurt you.

I’m both sarcastic and serious here.   As I read Kaling’s quite entertaining “IEHOWM”,  I relished most the parts where she acknowledged being  A: unathletic, B: hopelessly out of touch due to immigrant parents,  or C: unable to understand what it was boys wanted and why she, specifically, was not that.   

I mean, those are my touchstones, you guys.    

The book is super-entertaining and follows the same basic format as Bossypants;  to wit – here’s a little about my childhood, a little about the things I did before you knew me, and here’s a couple of humorous chapters about my coworkers, who you also know, in which I pretend to mock them but really, I love them.

Of course, it’s not Bossypants, not least because nothing is going to supersede that book but also because Kaling is very aware she’s writing to her peers, people she might well have a drink with, whereas Fey knew she was writing to legions of fans.

Here are things you may have suspected about IEHOWM that are true:

   - That’s a really awkward acronym
   - Mindy Kaling is really, really funny when she writes about specifically girly things, like how you will make acronyms of you and your friends’ initials to prove you’re the best friend ever.
  - Even though there’s a chapter called “Failing at everything in New York”, her failures kind of feel like…you know, living.
   - The parts you’ve already read which have been leaked in advance are not the funniest parts of the book, but you still would have appreciated reading them the first time.

Here are things you didn’t suspect about IEHOWM:

Even though she’s her vague peppy self, Kaling doesn’t lie about stuff which makes me like her.    Specifically, she’s up front about things you’re not supposed to be, like how it annoys her when Steve Carell won’t ever talk sh*t about anyone, and that she scammed her way into perks she didn’t deserve at an early job.

Her best honesty is one I don’t want to give away too much,  about how she is not always the best-behaved person at work, and how she got in legitimate trouble for it, and – and!  She includes that when she told her mother about what happened, her mother yelled at her, too.   That’s what makes the story all the way priceless.

Basically, this book is what it promises to be, which is a chat with a girlfriend (who devotes a lot of time to why her best friends are still her best friends).   I like her more after having read it and I know a little bit more about her, too.

It’s not a career guide.   The story of what happened to get Mindy from New York to LA is not vague, exactly, but it’s pretty damn lucky, and there’s no real path to follow.   Then again, that’s not your goal in reading her, is it?  You want to know whether you’d like her so much if you knew who she really was, and I think that one’s a gimme.  Kaling’s whole M.O. is that she wants to be your (slightly bitchy) girlfriend giggling with you.  What are you looking to her for life advice for?  You’re the one who’s wearing that skirt she loves, right?

In summary, absolutely get it for your best friend for her birthday, but if you wait ‘til Christmas, even more of the fun stories may have escaped into magazine articles and spilled on talk shows.