Is It Just Me? is a semi-autobiographical book by Miranda Hart detailing the trials and tribulations of growing up and daily life through a series of embarrassing incidents. Each chapter is a different element of daily life (beauty, dating, office life etc.) which is discussed by Miranda through the use of anecdotes and imaginary conversations with her teenage self.
Now, I don’t for a minute believe that all of these anecdotes can have happened, and that there hasn’t been a fair amount of exaggeration and artistic licence used. For example, I just can’t believe that when Miranda wrongfully gained a reputation for ‘putting out’ at school, she thought her classmates were referring to her putting out the bins. If she genuinely believed that, she’s reached a whole new level of sheltered upbringing. (I mean bins, really?) There are some anecdotes, whether real or fictional, which I simply didn’t need to know about – flinging poo out of a window at a school crush, for instance. But what I like about the book is the fact that Miranda comes across as a very normal (although a bit weird) person who manages to make a right tit of herself on a fairly regular basis, which is something I can definitely identify with, and that makes me feel better about myself. What’s even better is that she clearly doesn’t mind making a tit of herself, but can laugh it off and store it as a funny anecdote for later use, which is really the way we all should treat our own embarrassing ordeals. Some of it was rather far-fetched and I must admit she’s suffered more than her fair share of awkward moments if all is meant to be believed, but there were definitely instances (I won’t say which) when I read about something she’d done and thought “yes, I’ve done that too!” (Incidentally, there is a kind of spin-off/sequel e-book called No, It’s Us Too! which is filled with stories sent in by the public doing daft/embarrassing things).
I did enjoy the book but because of the very conversational tone in which it’s written, constantly drawing the reader in and asking lots of questions, I can’t help thinking that maybe this is the kind of thing that would work best on the telly or radio, or even in audio book form. I wasn’t too keen on the dialogues between current Miranda and younger Miranda, it just felt a bit weird to be reading a script between the two of them (complete with stage directions) and then switching back to Miranda speaking directly to the reader. That’s one of the reasons why I think it might work better in an audio/visual format. It’s an easy book to dip in and out of though, not necessarily the kind of thing you’d want to read in prolonged sittings, but it’s quite a quick read and you can easily read an anecdote or two at random without really losing the gist of it (which is helpful if you’ve just made a complete fool of yourself in the office, say, and want a quick burst of kinship with someone who’s hopefully made a bigger fool of themselves than you). It’s positive in the sense that you feel like less of a tit knowing these things happen to other people, and even more cheering to know that whatever you do, you probably won’t reach the level of tit-making that Miranda has apparently achieved (if this book’s anything to go by at least).
See previous Book Review featuring Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, or read a review of Miranda’s ‘My, What I Call, Live Show.