Mara Wilson shot to fame when she was five years old, after playing Robin Williams and Sally Field’s daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire. That led to her stepping into Natalie Wood’s shoes in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. At seven, Wilson landed her dream role: the titular character in the film adaptation of Matilda, the Roald Dahl classic that Wilson and her mother loved.
Then tragedy struck. Wilson’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and would not live to see the release of Matilda. After her mother’s death, Wilson started having anxiety attacks and OCD symptoms. As she entered puberty, casting directors stopped calling.
Where Am I Now? contains engaging, poignant accounts of the actress-turned-storyteller’s struggles to find her identity after losing her mother and Hollywood’s adoration: “I didn’t want to stop acting because I had to, because I was too ugly.”
Wilson covers difficult topics but can leaven a painful anecdote with incisive wit. Remarking on a harsh review in which a movie critic expresses a desire “to shake [Wilson] by her tiny adorable shoulders until her little Chiclet teeth rattle,” Wilson writes: “What better way to show one’s edgy coolness than hypothetical child abuse?”
When fans ask for a picture with her, she panics: “I don’t photograph well, and…they’re going to put it on the Internet, where not everyone knows I’m funny and charming and generally a decent person.” But that’s exactly how she comes across in this memoir, with a sense of self-acceptance that indicates she knows where—and who—she is now.
This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.