My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

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Scribner, October 2018

★★★☆☆

Have you ever noticed that when God closes a door, he opens a window? Neither have I. But I have noticed that timing and luck sometimes line up in such a way that you can catch a break.

In this collection of essays, star of The Office (US) and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper charts her life from her childhood in St. Louis through her ‘sports monster’ days in college and into the heady world of New York improv comedy.

I really like Ellie Kemper as an actress and, from what I can tell, since we have never met, as a person. I even like her as a writer; this book is as charmingly quirky and full of positivity as you’d expect from her. I didn’t, however, like this book all that much. Whilst each of the essays was enjoyable, and I always like to hear about what Tina Fey is like in real life for when we become best friends, it felt like more of a collection of anecdotes than a book. There was no greater narrative purpose or deeper meaning behind the essays; I was waiting for it but it never came. Having read and loved some of Ellie’s colleagues books in a similar style, like Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please, My Squirrel Days just felt a bit flat in comparison.

I think this is probably because she’s lived a fairly charmed life; not to downplay her talent or achievements, but she’s from a lovely-sounding, wealthy family who were emotionally and, more importantly, financially supportive, and she had some early lucky breaks in her career. It’s wonderful for her, and I’m pleased that she ended up on our TV screens in shows that I love, but it’s not the most exciting journey to read - there’s not a whole lot of struggle or conflict, just some light-hearted, amusing tales. There were some definite laugh out loud moments, but it felt a bit like a book written for a book’s sake - which is a bit of a waste of Kemper’s wit and charm.


Recommendations

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