Reviewed by Jowana Bueser
By Anna Faris
320 pp. Dutton.
Anna Faris and her book Unqualified continue the proud and noble tradition of female comedians releasing hilarious memoirs. Her breakout role as Shelley Darlingson in The House Bunny made Faris the archetypal dumb blonde for a particular generation. Her marriage to Star-Lord himself Chris Pratt, became the too adorable relationship the Internet cannot handle. Since Unqualified doubles up as a relationship guide, we need to address the elephant in the room: Faris and Pratt split up. How can someone like her provide sound counsel on relationship matters? That makes her seems like, for lack of better term, unqualified.
Well, let me recall something Hillary Clinton underscored in her latest book. In a moment of honesty, the first female presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party admitted that, for a politician, she does not possess a compelling personal story. Unlike her husband Bill, who was born in a log cabin in a place called Hope, she had a pretty normal middle class childhood. But Hillary will not let the prosaic handicap herself. As she fearlessly riposted, “But I think my story, like the stories of so many women of my time, is as inspiring as any other – and it really is the story of the revolution.”
Anna Faris may seem unqualified but she has a story and it is hers to tell.
Expectedly, the first line in her introduction is, “I’m not qualified to write a book”. A few paragraphs later, she confessed, “There’s liberation in admitting you don’t know what you’re doing”. Know-it-alls are annoying; so it is rather refreshing to read life lessons from someone sincere enough to admit shortcomings.
Unqualified shares similar literary genetic structure with the memoirs of a legendary funny girl. The late Nora Ephron, responsible for the memorable script of When Harry Met Sally, wrote a series of books before she died. It is a collection of sidesplitting reflections from the simple (using anti-aging cream) to the complicated (confronting a cheating husband). Faris, an English major, writes the same way. The first chapter is called “The Fastest Boy in Third Grade,” about her first crush Ryan. In order to get his attention, Faris would buy him ice cream for weeks. Finally, he asked her out despite also dating the most popular girl in third grade. A couple of weeks later, Ryan dumps her. Faris shared her giggle-snort realization that she became a literal sugar mama in third grade.
There are countless giggle-snort moments in her book: getting stared at and thinking she is being objectified only to realize her knit dress crept up and her granny undies are showing; starting an orange ceremony to deal with heartbreaks; and meeting creepy people on Chatroullete. Her podcast life is also represented through conversations with her co-host and life-long friend Sim Sarna. Even insights from their podcast listeners make an appearance.
The best chapter is dedicated to her son Jack Pratt. Faris had a risky pregnancy in her late 30s. Born premature, Jack had severe brain bleeding that could lead to development disabilities. The chapter is emotional, a poignant departure from the general tone of the book. I have to say the best thing the Faris-Pratt relationship ever gave humanity is raising Jack.
Speaking of adorable toddler, Chris Pratt. There are multiple chapters about him including one that lists all the precious stuff he does for her and another that deals with the challenges of a celebrity marriage.
Honestly, one cannot help but feel cynical about relationships after reading Unqualified. The Internet has declared the demise of love after the separation Faris and Pratt. But there in lies the beauty of her memoir-slash-relationship guide; she never claimed to be an expert. In fact, she called herself and her book unqualified. The strength of Faris lies in her boundless curiosity. She is an information junkie. She relishes listening to people share their problems. She is interested. Jane Fonda once said, it is better to be interested than interesting. Faris is interesting because she is endlessly interested.
Unqualified by Anna Faris is now available at Fully Booked Stores.
Jowana applied as a research assistant for Hogwarts but was rejected because her natural sarcasm is considered a form of dark arts. She has since harnessed her powers working as a social media manager for almost a decade. Books keep her calm from the madness and the sameness of life. You can find her on Twitter @jowana.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]