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

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without MeBy Eileen Ramos

Mindy Kaling is an Emmy-nominated writer for NBC’s The Office who also stars as the recurring character Kelly Kapoor, a self absorbed and selfish Indian airhead.  In her memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling writes about her childhood, how she got on The Office, her family, friends, colleagues, and other topics like how to be a man and rules of being best friends.  Each section on average is three to seven pages and she packs a lot in 219 pages.  It’s a concise and very quick read that you can go through in two days.  There are a lot of witty lists in this book and one of my favorites is the “Things Kelly Would Do That I Would not” (plant evidence of cheating in order to confront a boyfriend, consider driving away from the site of a vehicular manslaughter, and text while showering) and “Things Kelly and I Would Do” (fake our own deaths to catch a serial killer; spend hours following a difficult recipe, hate the way it tastes, and throw it out to go to McDonald’s; drive with our parking brake on).

She’s not afraid of poking fun at herself and being completely blunt, like detailing out the hideous pimples on her forehead or her disastrous dance audition for the Broadway show Bombay Dreams.  You will cringe at her failures and cheer at her successes.  It’s remarkable what she’s willing to admit on paper for everyone to see, pointing out her irrational outbursts, immaturities, and harsh moments like this remembrance of babysitting:

When the kids went to bed, the real fun began: me turning on Showtime at the Apollo in their tricked –out den and going to town on all the kid-friendly snack food in the house.  Kid-friendly food is the best, because kid-friendly means “total garbage.” I ate frozen chicken nuggets shaped like animals, fruit chews shaped like fruit, and fruits shaped like cubes in syrup. I discovered that kids hate for any food to resemble the form it originally was in nature. They are on to something because that processed garbage was insanely delicious… One evening after her bath, Haley pulled me aside, wracked with guilt: “Mommy wanted to know who ate all the turtle-shaped bagel pizzas, and I knew it was you, but I lied and said it was me.” She burst into tears, I hugged her and told her, “You can never tell her the truth.” (page 69)

Or  my favorite story when the stylist brought only size 0 dresses to her People magazine photo shoot “Most Beautiful English-Speaking Persons in North America” (ehem… check the pic… not fat but definitely not a 0—look at those curves!).  And yet she managed to turn that lemon into sweet pink lemonade by having the seamstress cut open the back of an ornate dusty rose pink gown with a lace train and sew up a foot of canvas material to the back and safety pin it all up.  She and Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon on The Office) looked absolutely gorgeous in the shoot. It’s such fun to read how she turned things around with her plucky, go-getter attitude.

Kaling’s autobiography is so relatable and a lot of fun. You’ll want her to be your best friend and to dish to you about her romances and The Office dirt.  So go read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). It will make you want to write your own lists on how to be a person of the opposite sex and non-traumatic things that made you cry.

Eileen Ramos is an enthusiastic introvert who has a fervor for words.  She loves collecting them and seeing how they fit in, and expand, her world.  She’s a writer by day, sleeper by night (well, sort of) and she can’t wait to see what title she earns next. For more information or to link with Eileen, check out her LinkedIn profile.

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