Why Not You, Mindy?

Bipasha Chatterjee, Staff Writer

Described as an “American original” by bestselling author Jennifer Weiner, Mindy Kaling is an author, comedian, writer, and actress—she is definitely someone you would want to call your best friend. She is the creator and star of The Mindy Project, as well as a former writer and actor on The Office. Kaling is eccentric, witty, and neurotically charming; according to The Washington Post, she is the “likably gabby friend [who] chatters happily over generously poured glasses of red wine.” With her debut book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), listed as a New York Times bestseller, it is no surprise that her second release Why Not Me? is just another friend you never get tired of listening to. Discussing her “ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life” in a series of humorous, personal essays, Mindy Kaling weaves her way into our hearts, and she does it in the best way possible.

The format of Why Not Me? mirrors that of her first novel because of its casual tone of voice and self-deprecating humor, but it is clear to readers that Mindy (yes, we are on a first name basis) attempts to open herself up more this time around. Her debut book casted her in a spotlight: an Indian-American, Massachusetts native who hails from top-tier school Dartmouth College—and just happens to be successful in Hollywood without being a white woman or having a size zero waist. Why Not Me? however, allows Kaling to further embrace her niche as a quirky woman of color through her conversational and laugh-out-loud style of writing. Even the title of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) implies that Kaling was still searching for her place, Why Not Me? is an announcement: step aside, people—this 5’4’’ self-proclaimed “glamourpuss” is ready to take over Hollywood.

Why Not Me? covers a wide range of topics, varying from the oh-so-relatable stresses of red carpet events, to wedding etiquette, to an issue that every individual deals with: body image. Kaling references her struggles with weight in uncomfortable interviews about being an “unlikely leading lady” or by light-heartedly acknowledging herself as an “egg-timer-shaped woman,” but she rarely admonishes herself for it. Kaling finds that she should not have to justify her success to critics simply because she is different from the traditional Hollywood starlet. She excels tremendously in an entertainment industry dominated by thin, white actresses. According to The New York Times, Kaling is ambivalent between embracing the role of Hollywood’s “diversity poster child and bristling at it.” And, like everyone, she is also subject of falling victim to her own insecurities. She freely admits to readers of her character flaws, exclaiming, “This book is basically an exposé of them that I wrote myself! Focus on those! They’re hopefully more interesting and funnier!”

Though Kaling is sure to hit the marks when the time comes to sit down and get serious, she merely scratches the surface, rather than delving into subjects like the effect of her mother’s death. Despite this, Why Not Me? is the perfect pick-me-up, reeling in audiences with personal anecdotes and keeping them intrigued with helpful, inspirational advice. Her book is targeted towards what seems to be a young, female audience. She writes in her introduction, “If you’re reading this, you’re probably a woman. Or perhaps you’re a gay man getting a present for your even gayer friend. Maybe you accidentally bought this thinking it was the ‘Malala’ book. However this book made its way from the ‘Female Humor/Brave Minority Voices/Stress-free Summer Reads!’ section of your bookstore to your hands, it doesn’t matter,” giving only a glimpse of endless humor that’s tucked between the pages.

In her final chapter, she recounts a question that was asked of her by a teenage Indian girl who wondered where Kaling’s confidence stemmed from. She regretfully admits tossing off a canned answer at the time, but compensates in her last words of the book by saying that “feel[ing] entitled” is the key to confidence. She reminds us that it is okay to feel as though we deserve something without guilt; Mindy Kaling urges us to ask ourselves, “why not me?”

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

mindy kaling