“A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as ‘impossible to put down’”—People
From PEN America Literary Award-winning author Michelle Tea comes a moving personal essay collection about the trials and triumphs of shedding your vices in order to find yourself.
As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house: she drank; she smoked; she snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; she dated men and women, and sometimes both at once. But between hangovers and dead-end jobs, she scrawled in notebooks and organized dive bar poetry readings, working to make her literary dreams a reality.
In How to Grow Up, Tea shares her awkward stumble towards the life of a Bona Fide Grown-Up: healthy, responsible, self-aware, and stable. She writes about passion, about her fraught relationship with money, about adoring Barney’s while shopping at thrift stores, about breakups and the fertile ground between relationships, about roommates and rent, and about being superstitious (“why not, it imbues this harsh world of ours with a bit of magic”). At once heartwarming and darkly comic, How to Grow Up proves that the road less traveled may be a difficult one, but if you embrace life’s uncertainty and dust yourself off after every screw up, slowly but surely, you just might make it to adulthood.
“Wild, wickedly funny, and refreshingly relevant.” —Elle
“This compulsively readable collection is so damn good, you’ll tear through the whole thing (and possibly take notes along the way).” —Bustle
Tea has written memoirs (e.g., The Chelsea Whistle) about what it's like to be "born broke, or weird, into tricky families and unsafe towns," and now comes this tough, quirky volume from the "trembling hard-won perch of adulthood." The story begins with Tea, age 37 in San Francisco, newly free of a ne'er-do-well ex-boyfriend and sober after nearly killing herself with drugs and alcohol, but living in a group house with "drug-addled 20-somethings cavorting naked through the hallways." After deciding she would be a wreck if she turned 40 in that house, she claws her way out: first, she gets a job teaching writing, which she abandons to visit Paris; next, she finds a boyfriend who appears civilized but proves to be cruel; finally, she rents an apartment of her own, makes enough money to safely indulge in a $900 leather hoodie, and gets married to a happy woman. Tea's memoir begins as a narrative, then becomes more of an essay collection. Chapters survey her personalized spirituality ("The Baddest Buddhist") and her self-care through food ("Eat Me"). The overall feel is of a lecture delivered in the language of self-help: are you "walking on eggshells" in your relationship? This is messy, like Tea's story, but the narrator is charming and dogged enough to make readers glad that both they and she stuck it out.
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Just reread this for the third time and it’s still great.