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A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as “impossible to put down” (People)   As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house; she drank, smoked, snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; and she dated men and women, and sometimes both at once. But between hangovers and dead-end jobs, she A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as “impossible to put down” (People)   As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house; she drank, smoked, snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; and 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 real.   In How to Grow Up, Tea shares her awkward stumble towards the life of a Bonafide Grown-Up: healthy, responsible, self-aware, 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.


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A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as “impossible to put down” (People)   As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house; she drank, smoked, snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; and she dated men and women, and sometimes both at once. But between hangovers and dead-end jobs, she A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as “impossible to put down” (People)   As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house; she drank, smoked, snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; and 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 real.   In How to Grow Up, Tea shares her awkward stumble towards the life of a Bonafide Grown-Up: healthy, responsible, self-aware, 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.

30 review for How to Grow Up: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tobi

    Michelle Tea is a working class, feminist, queer writer whose work I respect and treasure. Valencia and Rose of No Man's Land are two of my favorite novel/memoirs about growing up as a girl in the United States, period. She founded Sister Spit and has worked with City Lights Publisher to publish queer/feminist writers. More recently, I was enthralled by her column Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea and, although I'm not a parent, I have been following her most recent publishing project Mutha Mag Michelle Tea is a working class, feminist, queer writer whose work I respect and treasure. Valencia and Rose of No Man's Land are two of my favorite novel/memoirs about growing up as a girl in the United States, period. She founded Sister Spit and has worked with City Lights Publisher to publish queer/feminist writers. More recently, I was enthralled by her column Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea and, although I'm not a parent, I have been following her most recent publishing project Mutha Magazine with genuine interest. So I came to her new book, a self-help memoir, not only with high expectations; I wanted it to be radical. It turns out it's not for me. While I did find some of her stories relatable and amusing - particularly the part about not wanting to live in a punk house anymore after everyone got scabies - reading this book felt more like watching that Sex and the City episode where Carrie tries to date a 20 year old than something written by a feminist radical peer who wants to change society and resist patriarchal oppression. Don't get me wrong, I saw that Sex in the City episode when I was in my mid 30's and still dating a 23 year olds and I could totally relate and was quite entertained! But as a middle age punk rocker without a solid "career path" who doesn't own a car or a house or want to get married or have kids or get rich - I don't think I'm the intended audience for this book, which is more like a self-help manual for people who do want a more normal, middle class life and dream of having enough money to buy fancy clothes and go to fashion shows where celebrities hang out. On that level, it's kind of my worst nightmare. Does 'growing up' mean replacing the radical punk idealism of our youth with a vapid, materialist version of The American Dream? I hope not. For one thing, most of us will likely stay poor and working class. By not having an "adult job" making an "adult income" or being able to afford to live in an "adult living situation" are we simply immature children? I reject the idea that this means we are failures! ] I also reject this idea of "adult relationships" as traditional, partnered, long term monogamy...plus, there's something to be said for dating 23 year olds! But I am concerned about our future... what will happen to us as we continue to "grow up" and by this I mean, get old and start to die? I'm still dreaming of building an inclusive, sustainable alternative to capitalism and patriarchy - a site of radical adulthood - a place where we can work and live and co-exist without having to compromise the core-values of community, independence and integrity we got from our punk youth. In this place there is room for people of all ages, including children and old folks, and we aren't all stunted, party animals trying to recreate our youth forever. We don't all work terrible, exploitative jobs and pay too much money in rent. We don't waste away in bars. We can go on tour without quitting our jobs and we put out radical newspapers and make movies and share information and resources and help each other out. There are worker owned co-ops and feminist housing collectives and rent control exists and harm reduction thrives and homeless shelters don't get shut down because the city wants to build ugly condos no one can afford- how do we get there? So even though this is not so much the book for me, I should say that I did really like the chapter "How To Break Up" - it has some good tips and it's pretty funny. Which is to say, check this book out for yourself, you might get something out of it even if you reject its basic premise. But I'm still looking for a book on how to "grow up"--In the meantime, I'll be reading about the history of radicalism in the United States, searching for clues on how to build an alternative to capitalist, mainstream adulthood. This week I have been reading about The Chicago Surrealists - like Franklin and Penelope Rosemont - who put out a radical, working class newspaper in Chicago called The Rebel Worker in the late 60's and continue to do radical writing and publishing work...

  2. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    Having read Rent Girl a while back, I figured getting an updated perspective on the life of Michelle Tea would be interesting. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed by this book of memoir-essays. I think this book could more aptly be titled "How To Feel Better About Making Really Expensive Purchases After Having Been Poor For A Long Time, And How That Totally Makes You Awesome And Able To Judge Other People Because Seriously, You Used To Be Poor And Now You Can Afford Really Expensive Purses And Des Having read Rent Girl a while back, I figured getting an updated perspective on the life of Michelle Tea would be interesting. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed by this book of memoir-essays. I think this book could more aptly be titled "How To Feel Better About Making Really Expensive Purchases After Having Been Poor For A Long Time, And How That Totally Makes You Awesome And Able To Judge Other People Because Seriously, You Used To Be Poor And Now You Can Afford Really Expensive Purses And Designer Clothes! But You're Not Pretentious And Rich Now, Really!"

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    ugggghhhhhh i have wasted so much time on michelle tea and i am officially over it. more like, how to grow smug and self-satisfied. how to justify your de-politicized domesticity. how to bore me to tears yet still scandalize me with casual references to botox as self-care. ugggghhhhhhhhh.

  4. 5 out of 5

    K.

    This was nowhere as good as Bitch Magazine said it would be, but it's also not as bad as the NPR review suggested it is. This was nowhere as good as Bitch Magazine said it would be, but it's also not as bad as the NPR review suggested it is.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    I have no doubt talked about my love for Michelle Tea on Goodreads before... but here I go again... I first discovered Michelle Tea in my late twenties when I was in San Francisco, her books really spoke to me - this was me! these were my thoughts! her books that I read then felt very real and raw and I connected so much with them and also I loved reading about her eating vegan food... as a vegan I get excited when books have vegans in them... which doesn't happen very often. I then leant her boo I have no doubt talked about my love for Michelle Tea on Goodreads before... but here I go again... I first discovered Michelle Tea in my late twenties when I was in San Francisco, her books really spoke to me - this was me! these were my thoughts! her books that I read then felt very real and raw and I connected so much with them and also I loved reading about her eating vegan food... as a vegan I get excited when books have vegans in them... which doesn't happen very often. I then leant her books to my husband before he was my husband (actually it was when we were 'just friends') and he loved them too. and now? oh gosh, I dunno, after reading this I feel that Tea and me are not what I thought... which is ok right? it's all my fault rather than hers. Really it's fine that she has had botox a couple of times, talks about money a lot and is no longer vegan... it's fine, but a little part of me is heartbroken by it. And I still love her, I love that she's now sober and talks about her life now and how great it is, I love that she's found a lovely person to get married to and has had a baby (the baby hasn't made itself into the world in this book) and the chapter where she writes about her wedding is just gorgeous - the bit about her niece being her flower girls is so funny and cute. But I do feel that what I connected to so essentially in her earlier books is no longer there (and I felt that with Mermaid in Chelsea Creek too) but we change, we grow up, and thats ok. I'm still going to read everything she writes.x

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I loved a lot of this but the voice is much more commercial than Tea's other work -- I mean, this is her most commercial book. She's speaking to a different audience, mostly straight cis women, it seems like; the content much less queer, at times maybe even de-queered... Still lots of wisdom about class, inequality, living broke, ambition, addiction, making "irresponsible" choices that actually are the best right choices. I tried to put into practice the money intention (reciting "money loves me I loved a lot of this but the voice is much more commercial than Tea's other work -- I mean, this is her most commercial book. She's speaking to a different audience, mostly straight cis women, it seems like; the content much less queer, at times maybe even de-queered... Still lots of wisdom about class, inequality, living broke, ambition, addiction, making "irresponsible" choices that actually are the best right choices. I tried to put into practice the money intention (reciting "money loves me / I'm a money magnet") and in some ways it worked -- I did get some surprising checks in the mail -- but then I also received a notice I got overpaid last semester and owe back $3000... still ... I want to believe.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bek

    I almost passed this book up, having read a handful of Tea's other self destructive memoirs (which were all great in their own way, but sometimes just mind candy). I'm glad I didn't though because this was just what I needed right now - a reminder that it's okay to grow up. Maybe sometimes I miss the freedom of being 23 + staying up until 4am dancing my way through a bottle of whiskey at a DIY space, but the truth is, that 23 yr old was also an asshole. The memoir revels in the benefits of being I almost passed this book up, having read a handful of Tea's other self destructive memoirs (which were all great in their own way, but sometimes just mind candy). I'm glad I didn't though because this was just what I needed right now - a reminder that it's okay to grow up. Maybe sometimes I miss the freedom of being 23 + staying up until 4am dancing my way through a bottle of whiskey at a DIY space, but the truth is, that 23 yr old was also an asshole. The memoir revels in the benefits of being grown up like being able to choose the space you live in, cook your loved one dinner or just generally be kinder with yourself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    I received an advance copy of this from Penguin Books' First to Read program. I'm not sold on "How to Grow Up." To its credit, it is an easy read. Tea is witty. Her descriptions are deadpan, irreverent, and at times, made me laugh out loud. Structurally, it is somewhat schizophrenic. I'm not sure if this is a memoir made of essays or a memoir made of essays with a few self-help how-to lists; what kind of book am I dealing with here? Maybe Tea is going for a style inspired by Quentin Crisp, and i I received an advance copy of this from Penguin Books' First to Read program. I'm not sold on "How to Grow Up." To its credit, it is an easy read. Tea is witty. Her descriptions are deadpan, irreverent, and at times, made me laugh out loud. Structurally, it is somewhat schizophrenic. I'm not sure if this is a memoir made of essays or a memoir made of essays with a few self-help how-to lists; what kind of book am I dealing with here? Maybe Tea is going for a style inspired by Quentin Crisp, and if that's the case, I'll give her a pass. However, I have a real problem with the substance of the memoir. Perhaps it was unavoidable, given that Tea and I are very close in age, had very similar experiences throughout our twenties (although I was in NYC, not SF, and my vices never rose to the level of addiction), and we seem to be on the same page with respect to our socio-political beliefs. I know her "story" because it's a lot like mine. Like Tea, I wanted to write about my life, because I thought my ideas were so wacky, so off the beaten path, and it was of the utmost importance that the world know how oh-so persecuted I was for liking different music, wearing Doc Martens, and having drag queens as friends. But that was a couple of decades ago, and I've gained a bit of perspective since then. Tea would like you to think she's done the same, dropping little qualifiers implying she is no longer the out of control, angry wild child fueled by booze and narcotics; at least one paragraph of each essay seems to end with a sentence telling you she's all grown up now, 12-stepped and monogamous. Yet she has an awfully tight, almost clenched grasp on these memories of her bad old days, which is all the more frustrating, even disingenuous, when they are encased in a book titled "How to Grow Up." The book has a couple of bright spots. The vignette about the author's wedding was exceptional. It was straightforward, genuine, and Tea's talented narrative transported me to the Swedish-American club in which she married and her guests ate BBQ and pie. Unfortunately, stories like that were overshadowed by tiring tales about how she was unimpressed by college life and proudly got her degree from the School of Hard Knocks, how she was lousy at keeping jobs in high school because she had dyed hair, she camped out for New Order tickets, how the needle injecting her with Botox hurt, but not too badly, because she was used to needles, what, with all her tattoos, and how she found her higher calling after she discovered zines and began staging poetry events, because, in case you hadn't been reading for the last two hundred pages--she is creative and she is an artist! One reviewer of this book mentioned that he thought Tea's subject matter was low-hanging fruit, and I think that is apt. Reading How to Grow Up was like hearing a joke to which I already knew the punchline...over and over again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    This was one of those books that I read just at the right time. Topics in this memoir in essays by legendary queer San Francisco writer include fashion, money, "scarcity issues," not living in a shithole punk house anymore, moisturizing, food, babies, marriage, exercising, spirituality, class, (not going to) college, and how to honour your 19-year-old despair-striken activist self without falling back into depsair. That last one was my favourite: "I had a terrible sort of revelation, in which al This was one of those books that I read just at the right time. Topics in this memoir in essays by legendary queer San Francisco writer include fashion, money, "scarcity issues," not living in a shithole punk house anymore, moisturizing, food, babies, marriage, exercising, spirituality, class, (not going to) college, and how to honour your 19-year-old despair-striken activist self without falling back into depsair. That last one was my favourite: "I had a terrible sort of revelation, in which all earthly forms of oppression became very visible to me. I could see all their interconnectedness with a horrible clarity that made it difficult to live." Ugh I remember that feeling so hard!

  10. 5 out of 5

    City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

    This is the memoir Lena Dunham wishes she wrote. Michelle Tea's adventures and exploits offer readers plenty to be entertained by, including the best description of a so-called "work-life balance" I've ever heard of. The real value of this book, though, is her truly hard-earned wisdom. If you can't afford therapy, or are not able to pay for as many sessions as you'd like, read this book. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers This is the memoir Lena Dunham wishes she wrote. Michelle Tea's adventures and exploits offer readers plenty to be entertained by, including the best description of a so-called "work-life balance" I've ever heard of. The real value of this book, though, is her truly hard-earned wisdom. If you can't afford therapy, or are not able to pay for as many sessions as you'd like, read this book. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arianna

    shelfnotes.com Dear Reader, I have long been a fan of Michelle Tea, which is why I picked this book up even though I don't tend to like memoirs. So, Tea's voice in this book balanced out a lot of my disinterest in learning "life lessons" from people. I found it to be, overall, a good read, although certainly nothing life-changing. Tea had a few great pieces of wisdom to impart, particularly (for me) in her chapter on "How to Break Up," advice I really could have used around the time I lived in Bos shelfnotes.com Dear Reader, I have long been a fan of Michelle Tea, which is why I picked this book up even though I don't tend to like memoirs. So, Tea's voice in this book balanced out a lot of my disinterest in learning "life lessons" from people. I found it to be, overall, a good read, although certainly nothing life-changing. Tea had a few great pieces of wisdom to impart, particularly (for me) in her chapter on "How to Break Up," advice I really could have used around the time I lived in Boston with a particularly loveless & selfish person. (Although knowing my neediness at that point, I probably would never have heeded it. - Which Michelle Tea also totally understands; she's like a wise & "been there" aunt.) I also really enjoyed "Beware of Sex and Other Rules for Love" (Tea makes herself quite a few ground rules following her "crazy sexual period" where she decides what she really wants in a partner she plans to share her life with). And I had to laugh at the first sentence of the "WWYMD?" chapter: "What would Young Michelle think of today's Michelle? -- Who cares? That Michelle was a jerk.") Tea doesn't take herself too seriously, and has learned to question the beliefs and ideals she once had, which I do appreciate. I also did enjoy how well the author was able to make a memoir - essentially, her collection of essays - flow into a pretty cohesive and overarching life story. However, I have to admit I was a little bored by other parts of the book, those that just didn't engage me. While I could relate to her adoption of the punk rock fashion and "lifestyle" in her teenage years, I wasn't all that interested in the story of when she achieved her lifelong goal of attending Paris Fashion Week, or purchasing a $900 leather jacket. I was interested in her rationalization for experiencing those things, and I understand that growing up with nothing and suddenly having money can make you see the world differently, but I had to say I cringed when she risked her job to do something that felt so...frivolous. Maybe she knows something I don't know, though. Besides, it is her life, her money, and her passion. So what if it isn't mine? That's okay. (And I actually think that is one of the things Tea tries to express in her book.) Tea's frank discussions about how she feels about not having gone to college, her recovery from drugs and alcohol, and her newly-established family life were all quite engaging, and I think the true meat of this book. It was what kept me reading, even through her chapters on affirmations (a 12-step concept), her take on Buddhism (kind of yawn), and her validations for getting Botox (blerg). And despite the wildly varying quality and quantity, each chapter did have something valuable to impart on the reader. Tea was able to learn from her life - both her mistakes and her triumphs - and has come out the stronger on the other side. Which is why I think she felt the need to write this, and why I think many will get something out of this. My three favorite quotes from this book? "...I was haunted by the question, What do you want to be when you grow up? I never wanted to be a nurse, or a truck driver. There was only one job in the whole world that I had ever heard of that sounded good to me: I wanted to be a librarian." ★ Not going to college does not mean you've opted out of educating yourself." [Nor does finishing school, at whatever level; you should always be choosing to learn & improve!] ★ "I try to make choices that will align with my highest beliefs. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't and in between I try not to have a panic attack over it." I'd suggest picking this book up if you need some inspiration, especially if you worry your life has maybe gone in the wrong direction. Michelle Tea's life has gone pretty much every direction possible, and yet by anyone's standards she is pretty darned successful. It reminds us all to reflect on our own lives more impartially, for some true perspective. Yours, Arianna P.S. While poking around online looking for an image from her wedding (beautiful couple), I stumbled across a photo of the jumpsuit she wears on the book jacket! -- http://elisashea.com/post/5781067153/... P.P.S. I am including the list of chapter titles here because I typed them all out as I read them in an effort to remember things, and I figured why not share them if the work has already been done? 1. You Deserve This 2. Fashion Victim 3. My $1,100 Birthday Apartment 4. I Have Trust Fund from God--and So Do You! 5. Beware of Sex and Other Rules for Love 6. How to Break Up 7. Too Cool for School 8. The Baddest Buddhist 9. Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea 10. Ask Not for Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls 11. You Can't Fire Me; I Quit 12. WWYMD: What Would Young Michelle Do? 13. Eat Me 14. I'm So Vain 15. Confessions of a Gym Rat P.P.P.S. I received this book as an ARC through the Penguin First-To-Read program.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    I started reading Michelle Tea about one hundred years ago when Imogen told me to and I have never looked back. She is SO GREAT. Funny and smart and earthy and mystical and just brimming and shimmering like a rain barrel with will and belief and love. The best.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessie McMains

    I have weird feelings about this book. I read an advance copy as part of Penguin's First-to-Read program, and I was really excited to get to read a Michelle Tea book before it was even released. And now I'm glad that I got to read an advance copy, because that means I didn't have to pay for it... I read it in a day-and-a-half. And that's a testament to the quality of the writing, for sure - it pulled me along so that I only put it down when I absolutely HAD to. And when I first finished it, I tho I have weird feelings about this book. I read an advance copy as part of Penguin's First-to-Read program, and I was really excited to get to read a Michelle Tea book before it was even released. And now I'm glad that I got to read an advance copy, because that means I didn't have to pay for it... I read it in a day-and-a-half. And that's a testament to the quality of the writing, for sure - it pulled me along so that I only put it down when I absolutely HAD to. And when I first finished it, I thought: "Hell yes, this was exactly what I needed right now." And I gave it five stars, and put it on my favorites shelf. And then I thought about it some more, and started feeling more conflicted, less stoked. I downgraded it to four stars, and took it off my favorites shelf. A few more days went by, I thought about it more, and I downgraded it to three stars. It's so hard to judge someone's memoir, right? It's them talking about their life experiences and the lessons THEY'VE learned about themselves, so how can you say "I don't agree with this" without sounding like a jerk? Sure, you can critique their writing style, but to critique their life experiences and the lessons they've learned... I'm really very happy that Michelle Tea got sober, and that she's having success as a writer. And I'm happy that she's in a good relationship. And I really liked/related to the parts about how it's okay to make money as a writer (or any other kind of artist), that it's okay to not want to live in a house with maggots in the fridge and roommates who are wasted all the time, that it's even okay to want to own some nice things, that it's even okay to get married and have babies - how none of those things mean you're old and boring, or a sell-out, or a traitor to the 'cause.' That's why I gave it five stars at first. I needed to read that. But then I started to think about the rest... I guess my main problem with this book is that it came off as sort-of bragging and preachy, even when she was trying NOT to do either one of those things. Like: "If you, too, get sober and dump your shitty partner, you will have the perfect life that I have!" Not to mention some of the things she so gleefully accepts and/or rejects throughout the book. Like, I was weirded out that she's really into Botox now, and that she really wanted a diamond engagement ring and barely even cared if it was a blood diamond! And I got pissed off when she said that if you and your partner open up your relationship, that means it really needs to end. Excuse me, Michelle, but some of us actually function better in open relationships. In conclusion, I think the book is an engaging read and there are certain parts that resonated with me, but I think it would have been better if it had been a straight-up memoir without the self-helpy bits; and if she wanted the self-helpy bits in there anyway, she should have taken into account that some people's paths to happiness, success, and growing up might look a hell of a lot different than hers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie G.

    When you’ve been a punk rock blue collar junkie and alcoholic involved in sexy trade and you finally realize you want a fridge free of maggots... how do you grow up and be true to yourself? I’ve met and seen her quite a few times and it’s a relief she is here and alive and thriving and doing the damn thing. There were some annoyances others mentioned about how this book is a guilt about getting money and her life together and a wife and stuff. But unless you grew up in a way similar to her; you w When you’ve been a punk rock blue collar junkie and alcoholic involved in sexy trade and you finally realize you want a fridge free of maggots... how do you grow up and be true to yourself? I’ve met and seen her quite a few times and it’s a relief she is here and alive and thriving and doing the damn thing. There were some annoyances others mentioned about how this book is a guilt about getting money and her life together and a wife and stuff. But unless you grew up in a way similar to her; you won’t get how important it is to read those type of messages. That you’re worth it even if shower gel seems silly or nice sheets seem bourgeois. If you grew up semi normal or don’t have issues with worth or money, you won’t get it. I got it. And it really gave me permission to have bread and roses.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    Tea's path to adulthood may have been rocky, but was ultimately smoothed by her becoming a successful and beloved writer. Most aspiring wordsmiths are not destined for that happy fate and may require an altogether different set of advice. Fortunately, financially failed Peter Pans (like me!) can still enjoy How to Grow Up as a charmingly witty recovery memoir. Tea's path to adulthood may have been rocky, but was ultimately smoothed by her becoming a successful and beloved writer. Most aspiring wordsmiths are not destined for that happy fate and may require an altogether different set of advice. Fortunately, financially failed Peter Pans (like me!) can still enjoy How to Grow Up as a charmingly witty recovery memoir.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I had high hopes for this book, especially being that I can identify with some of the themes (although I feel like I had my shit together a little earlier but whatever, it's all relative). Admittedly, I am unfamiliar with Michelle Tea's other writing and maybe if I were this book would have held my interest longer. Of course, on the flip side I also may not have been so quick to pick this book up at all. Two stars for the fact that this writer held my interest through 27% of the book--I mean, she I had high hopes for this book, especially being that I can identify with some of the themes (although I feel like I had my shit together a little earlier but whatever, it's all relative). Admittedly, I am unfamiliar with Michelle Tea's other writing and maybe if I were this book would have held my interest longer. Of course, on the flip side I also may not have been so quick to pick this book up at all. Two stars for the fact that this writer held my interest through 27% of the book--I mean, she's a decent writer (she must be) and her prose is at least somewhat interesting. But the "oh I grew up poor I can't believe I have money omg I'm spending $150 on perfume it's sooooooooo crayyyyyyyy!!!" schtick gets tired after one chapter. Unfortunately, it keeps going. Look, I grew up dirt poor. Like, super excited to have government cheese and rice poor. I understand the feeling. I went through a period of time where I stayed at a job I hated, one where I would literally either cry or puke prior to going in, just because I was afraid of not being able to support myself. Guess what though? This isn't a novel concept. Millions of Americans have struggled with poverty worse than I or Michelle Tea have. Like Michelle, I'm no longer poor and yeah, I can buy expensive perfume if I damn well please. In fact, I treat myself all the time and it doesn't scare me at all, tbh. But uuuggghhhh, reading her go on and on and on about how she suddenly is so rich she can't even comprehend it is grating. It's not a jealousy thing, it's a freaking-get-over-it-and-move-on-this-is-not-book-worthy kind of thing. That is all.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nitya

    This book was great fun, and it made me laugh. A lot. Okay, so it's light reading, so what? Michelle Tea has a fresh way of looking at things and also of telling a story. I found myself thinking of my kids who are in their twenties when I read her description of some of the crazy, cheap, party houses she'd lived in when she was on her own in San Francisco at that age. The author definitely has had an interesting life, and though she touches on her early years, this book focuses more on her twen This book was great fun, and it made me laugh. A lot. Okay, so it's light reading, so what? Michelle Tea has a fresh way of looking at things and also of telling a story. I found myself thinking of my kids who are in their twenties when I read her description of some of the crazy, cheap, party houses she'd lived in when she was on her own in San Francisco at that age. The author definitely has had an interesting life, and though she touches on her early years, this book focuses more on her twenties and thirties, thus the title. I related, both a a parent of kids who are currently learning some of these lessons,and as 60 year old recovering woman, who learned many of my lessons the hard way, just like Ms. Tea. I found her relationship history totally droll as well as instructive. I've heard a lot of stories from people in recovery, who have led lives of insanity and bad choices. These stories start to sound preachy or trite, many of them, but not Michelle Tea's. I was impressed, amused, and cheering for her! I could not wait to give this to my daughter, as I'd thought of her many times while reading it. Imagine my delight, when a few months later my daughter tells me how the book is helping her break free of a troubled relationship. She told me, "Every time I think about going back with him, I think of something Michelle Tea says," Maia told me. "The relationship you're in now IS the relationship. Not the one you used to have, not the one you might have in the future. But the one you have right now, today. And you need to be okay with that. " (Or leave, obviously.) Great advice, put so simply. Put in such a way that my daughter took it to heart. Thanks Michelle!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alysa H.

    Tea is a witty writer and many of the personal stories that she tells are poignant as well as quite funny. Different aspects will be relateable to different readers -- the teenage 80s rocker stuff to anyone who came of age during that time, the 12-steppy stuff to anyone who has struggled with addiction and recovery, the bad relationship stuff to, well, probably most women. However, while I enjoyed different parts of Tea's memoir, I disliked others, and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole. Per Tea is a witty writer and many of the personal stories that she tells are poignant as well as quite funny. Different aspects will be relateable to different readers -- the teenage 80s rocker stuff to anyone who came of age during that time, the 12-steppy stuff to anyone who has struggled with addiction and recovery, the bad relationship stuff to, well, probably most women. However, while I enjoyed different parts of Tea's memoir, I disliked others, and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole. Perhaps if the chapters had been presented in a different order (e.g. more chronologically, or by somewhat different themes?) I'd have had a better reaction, but as it stands I felt largely as if I were reading someone's self-helping diary project on how to justify various indulgent hipster behavior without feeling guilty, or how to feel great about one's mid-life achievements and "haves" after a youth of bad personal decisions and resultant "have-nots". The latter, especially, is all well and good for anyone to write for themselves but does not necessarily make a good read for others. ** I received an ARC of this book via Penguin's First to Read program **

  19. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    I was provided a free advance digital copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Those who enjoyed Cheryl Strayed's blend of advice column and confessional in Tiny Beautiful Things should seek out this new book by Michelle Tea. Containing frank truths, funny anecdotes, and very little prescriptive "advice", it offers a reassurance to anyone suffering from class issues, misogyny, poverty, traumatic memories of bullying, dysfunctional families, or homophobia that it does, in I was provided a free advance digital copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Those who enjoyed Cheryl Strayed's blend of advice column and confessional in Tiny Beautiful Things should seek out this new book by Michelle Tea. Containing frank truths, funny anecdotes, and very little prescriptive "advice", it offers a reassurance to anyone suffering from class issues, misogyny, poverty, traumatic memories of bullying, dysfunctional families, or homophobia that it does, indeed, get better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    Memoirs by people who have taken wayward paths to adult success/happiness are one of my favorite genres. If you like that kind of thing, you will probably like this. There is some 12-step/spiritual talk in here that might be like, too much for some people? I personally enjoyed reading about Michelle's relationship with Stevie Nicks God, but I can certainly see where your mileage might vary on that. For me, this was an entertaining and reassuring read. Memoirs by people who have taken wayward paths to adult success/happiness are one of my favorite genres. If you like that kind of thing, you will probably like this. There is some 12-step/spiritual talk in here that might be like, too much for some people? I personally enjoyed reading about Michelle's relationship with Stevie Nicks God, but I can certainly see where your mileage might vary on that. For me, this was an entertaining and reassuring read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    sylas

    This was a really disappointing book. I got about 100 pages in before giving up. I couldn't get into the writing style at all - really simple and dismissive. Michelle Tea seems to have "grown up" into a boring, fairly wealthy lady who thinks all relationships must be monogamous or else they will definitely fail, who encourages Botox injections and vacations in Paris as a lovely way to get over your most recent ex, and who's definitely lost her sparkle for me. Too bad. This was a really disappointing book. I got about 100 pages in before giving up. I couldn't get into the writing style at all - really simple and dismissive. Michelle Tea seems to have "grown up" into a boring, fairly wealthy lady who thinks all relationships must be monogamous or else they will definitely fail, who encourages Botox injections and vacations in Paris as a lovely way to get over your most recent ex, and who's definitely lost her sparkle for me. Too bad.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allison Floyd

    I read Michelle Tea the way I eat potato chips: compulsively. There's plenty of evidence as to the why of that to be found in this collection of essays: heaps of LOL hilarity, gritty wisdom, and gutter glamour galore (although Tea has subsequently cleaned up her act, the grimy sequin patina of her wild years persists in her reminiscences). Growing up with Michelle Tea is a hoot! I read Michelle Tea the way I eat potato chips: compulsively. There's plenty of evidence as to the why of that to be found in this collection of essays: heaps of LOL hilarity, gritty wisdom, and gutter glamour galore (although Tea has subsequently cleaned up her act, the grimy sequin patina of her wild years persists in her reminiscences). Growing up with Michelle Tea is a hoot!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    What I appreciated most here was Michelle Tea's attempt to embrace her own contradictions (also known as nuances!) with candor. I've followed Michelle Tea's work with interest since my baby punk days, and I feel like I'm a few paces behind her on adulthood's meandering path. It is encouraging to read her reflections on how she made her own life a success story on her own terms. What I appreciated most here was Michelle Tea's attempt to embrace her own contradictions (also known as nuances!) with candor. I've followed Michelle Tea's work with interest since my baby punk days, and I feel like I'm a few paces behind her on adulthood's meandering path. It is encouraging to read her reflections on how she made her own life a success story on her own terms.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I would recommend this as a bible for self-discovery if that didn't play directly into the kind of ego inflation that leads so many of us down a bad path. It's funny, it's honest, it's clear, it's entertaining. It contains great truths on a platter of humility. We can all learn something about ourselves from it. I would recommend this as a bible for self-discovery if that didn't play directly into the kind of ego inflation that leads so many of us down a bad path. It's funny, it's honest, it's clear, it's entertaining. It contains great truths on a platter of humility. We can all learn something about ourselves from it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brook

    Michelle Tea's memoirs are always bright lights in my reading sky - sharp, poignant, and honest. At this point I would probably read anything by her a whole, whole bunch. This book also hit home as I consider my 30s and what my plans for the future are, or arent'. Michelle Tea's memoirs are always bright lights in my reading sky - sharp, poignant, and honest. At this point I would probably read anything by her a whole, whole bunch. This book also hit home as I consider my 30s and what my plans for the future are, or arent'.

  26. 5 out of 5

    mis fit

    See full review here: https://misfitblogs.wordpress.com/201... See full review here: https://misfitblogs.wordpress.com/201...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Schulman

    I did not need to read about Michelle Tea getting Botox. Ever. Once you read this shit you can't unread it, and Valencia will never be the same again. I did not need to read about Michelle Tea getting Botox. Ever. Once you read this shit you can't unread it, and Valencia will never be the same again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Did I just read a Michelle Tea book where she talks about botox? ...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Spiros

    Well, I guess it had to happen sometime: I just read a self-help book. Withal, it was pretty entertaining.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    This was the Tales of the City I wanted to read. Armistead Maupin may have been a shocking, intriguing, rollicking good time in 1978, but I was disappointed. His characters are shallow and silly, more "types" than people, and he creates scenes rather than tales. Apparently all the disparate storylines weave together in an ingenious way at some point, but I got bored and stopped reading. Maybe if I had been 20 in 1972 this would have felt evocative, but I was 20 in 2002, and even my love for San This was the Tales of the City I wanted to read. Armistead Maupin may have been a shocking, intriguing, rollicking good time in 1978, but I was disappointed. His characters are shallow and silly, more "types" than people, and he creates scenes rather than tales. Apparently all the disparate storylines weave together in an ingenious way at some point, but I got bored and stopped reading. Maybe if I had been 20 in 1972 this would have felt evocative, but I was 20 in 2002, and even my love for San Francisco couldn't hold my interest. Gay people are gay, and some people do drugs, and rich people have affairs, and nice old ladies grow pot in their backyards. This is true, not novel. And the obsession with San Francisco as haven for the queer and outcast feels depressing and trying in light of today's housing crisis and Google bus routes. Disillusioned, I strolled into City Lights looking for something else to read during my week back home in California, and I found Michelle Tea. Her memoir provided the combination self-reflection/voyeurism I was looking for, set against the backdrop of San Francisco in the early aughts. It was a city I knew better than the hedonist vision of Tales, and her portrayal was willing to come to terms with the pains of San Francisco's growing up, and growing rich. Her story is amazing and inspiring, and I connected with her 21st century exploration of urban, single life. She is a feminist who loves fashion, an athlete with neck tattoos, and a recovered alcoholic who cooks kale and wants babies. Her stories are engaging because they frame her (often outrageous and hilarious) mistakes and missteps as lines in a trajectory of hope, rather than as sensationalist moments themselves. You do not read this memoir to be appalled at the hedonism, but to understand how that other San Francisco has passed, for better or worse, into a more grown-up city that goes running down the beach instead of shooting up in the park. Now if only we could freeze time (2009?) before everyone became a Republican and all the artists moved to Oakland.

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