Isabella Biedenharn
September 14, 2015 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Why Not Me?

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Al Franken
publisher
Delacorte
genre
Comic Novels, Fiction, Politics and Current Events

We gave it an A-

If, in the months leading up to the release of Mindy Kaling’s second book, you’ve felt an anticipatory giddiness bubbling up like you’re about to see your best friend after years apart, you are not alone.

Whether the initial spark happened watching The Office, The Mindy Project, or devouring her best-selling debut, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling knows women fantasize about winning her friendship, and it feels like she’s written this hilarious second book especially for them (okay, for us). The format here is no different than the first time around, but that’s not to the book’s detriment at all. Kaling knows her strengths, and plays to them brilliantly.

Sharing dispatches from her glamorous life, she lets us in on Hollywood’s secrets, like any good girlfriend who “made it” would: “The first thing you need to know is the hair on your head is worthless,” she writes. “The color, the length, the thickness, everything.” She cuts through the other actors’ lies about filming “uncomfortable” love scenes in a refreshing chapter called “I LOVE SEX SCENES!”

There are the down-to-earth, everygirl essays, which Kaling executes with aplomb, covering everything from sororities to weddings (“Asking your friend to be a bridesmaid is one of the modern paradoxes: no one actually wants to do it, but everyone would be offended if you didn’t ask.”). And for those seeking a little Mindy Kaling mentorship, she describes all the pain and pleasure of writing her own show – with all the missed sleep her beloved, high-octane job requires.

Aside from that effortlessly conversational tone and her pitch-perfect humor, Kaling’s biggest strength here is curatorial. She gives us the candy we came for – the advice, the anecdotes, the straight talk on body image – but sprinkles in something extra. There’s a wonderful chapter that’s entirely fictional, consisting only of emails from Kaling’s “alternate life” as a Latin teacher at an Upper East Side prep school; and the final essay is a transcription of an absolutely uproarious 2014 speech Kaling gave at Harvard Law School.

Those hoping for a straight memoir may be disappointed — Kaling only glances at her mother’s 2012 death, for example — but there will be time for that yet, if she ever wants to cover it. Our BFF is going to be hanging out at the top for a while. With us.

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