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by Maria Bamford

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The star of Netflix’s Lady Dynamite examines her life in comedy, dealing with mental illness, and finding a way to belong. Beginning with an anecdote about attending an event in her 20s with a friend that shifts from friendly to an aggressive sales pitch for a self-help seminar, comedian Bamford notes, “I am very fond of suddenly adopting a new set of ideals in order to receive welcome from any rigid group of weirdos. If these people wanted a piece of me so badly, I must have been okay. (I am not ok).” Throughout, the author plays delightful tribute to the For Dummies book series, using a stop-sign image and the comic sans font for material she dubs “the creepy stuff.” In a compelling, hilarious, sometimes-harrowing voice, Bamford chronicles her childhood, involvement with both recovery and self-improvement programs—including Suzuki violin lessons as a child and an introduction to Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People” seminars at age 11—and struggles with mental illness. Although the book works quite well as a memoir, the author also includes helpful tips on how best to succeed with 12-step programs (while poking fun at them at the same time), a critique of the effectiveness of treatment for mental health problems in America, and an amusing anecdote about how she dealt with her sudden and unexpected fame as the star of a series of commercials for Target (“a great character for progressives who shop at Target, because it’s darkly funny in a Portland-y kind of way”). Bamford creates an effective mix of introduction (or reintroduction) to a fascinating comedian, a guide to the self-help industry, and an encouragingly lighthearted, respectful assessment of mental health, reminding readers that they are not alone. Laugh-out-loud funny, weird, and touching—a great example of what a celebrity memoir can bring to readers. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.