Brief synopsis: In her memoir How to Grow Up, Michelle Tea shares her struggle to understand a world just out of her reach: adulthood. She argues that certain markers of adulthood—living on your own, paying taxes, reproducing—don’t apply to everyone (they certainly didn’t apply to her), and as such are impractical standards when it comes to determining if you’ve got your life all figured out. Tea examines the life she’s lived by trial-and-error, and illustrates that being an adult is really about recognizing and becoming the best version of yourself.
Rating: Left behind
Long story short: For someone whose path to adulthood is on the conventional side (I went to college → I got a job → I eventually want to settle down and start a family), Tea’s non-linear journey feels raw and compelling. At times her (painful) honesty about her past as a junkie and alcoholic is uplifting, because it shows that even your vulnerabilities can unearth certain strengths.
I like the overall message—”being an adult means knowing what you want and letting yourself have it”—but Tea’s narrative voice is a little too preachy for my taste. After a while the memoir starts reading more like a self-help book that’s trying too hard to prove its point. This is not a book I can read over and over again, but do see myself referring back to certain sections on days when I want to compare myself to an ex-alcoholic and know I have my life together.
Continue reading for a more in-depth review (note: spoilers below).