In the introduction, Kaling says of herself, “I’m only marginally qualified to be giving advice at all. My body mass index is certainly not ideal, I frequently use my debit card to buy things that cost less than three dollars, because I never have cash on me, and my bedroom is so untidy it looks like vandals ransacked the Anthropologie Sale section. I’m kind of a mess.” And yet, she’s written a compelling, humorous memoir, with occasional advice. The advice she does offer is based on her own, real-life experiences and all the more valuable for its lack of childhood trauma.
As a writer, producer and actress on The Office, Kaling is in a perfect position to dish on Hollywood. And while she does some name-dropping, it’s always in the context of her own experience. For example, “When [she] heard of a ‘television writing job in New York City,’ [she] imagined a Gossip Girl-type aesthetic. [Her] outfits of button-down shirts, an ironic broach, men’s ties, kilts, and gold high-tops were completely stupid in the face of Seth Meyers’s subtly awesome gray T-shirts and Levi’s for whatever. So, lesson one: fashion plays a relatively unimportant role in the day-to-day work life of Saturday Night Live. Okay, learned that.” At a time when the book market is flooded with tales of success despite grossly dysfunctional childhoods, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a refreshing story of triumph over mediocrity.