Book Review: I Want To Be Where The Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom

rachel bloom i want to be indexRachel Bloom is one of my favourite people on the entire planet because of her musical dramedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is an extraordinarily unusual insight in to mental illness and love, packed with some of the best songs that have ever graced a musical. So when she released her first book late last year it was something I asked / demanded to be given for Christmas, and as my sister is a fantastic human being my wish came true.

It’s a book that I really enjoyed a great deal too, it mostly serves as an autobiography but every so often there’s a work of fiction or a digression, be it Rachel’s plans for her ideal theme park or a piece of Harry Potter fanfiction (which pleasingly sees Rachel address J.K. Rowling’s horrendous views on the trans community) that sees Harry discover Hogwart’s own drama group, and there’s even the script for a musical which examines Rachel’s relationship with musical theatre, a version of which can be heard in full on her website.

The book is at its strongest when Rachel discusses her life, she’s searingly honest and extremely funny when talking about how difficult her childhood was, from her tales of being bullied by the popular kids at school to the OCD she developed, and how she suffered from a compulsion to confess every single negative thing she’d ever seen or done. It also goes in to great deal with her sexuality and how that emerged at a young age, along with her love for musical theatre. The majority of the book is dedicated to her pre fame life, from her school years to university, her relationships and her interactions with other comedians and writers, and it is a fascinating read that I found myself exceedingly engaged by. It’s a playful work as well, with some of the parts of the tale told in poetry form, there’s photographs of her teenage diary and even a couple of amusingly poor drawings.

All of the autobiographical material really is superb, but there are a couple of parts which feel like filler, a jokey take on what her LinkedIn profile and her resume would look like if she was completely honest about her work experience were a little weak, one part about her rules for whimsy feels pointless, while the theme park bit only elicited a minor smile. It might seem churlish to complain about this, but it’s also a little frustrating that so little of the book is devoted to her time on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Bloom addresses this by commenting that a full account would require a book four times the size of this one, but it’s still disappointing we only get to see only a couple of snapshots of her work there and I wish we’d been given even a tiny bit more in the place of the above filler. It also feels like a slightly poor excuse given that the book doesn’t take that long to read due to the mixture of text, pictures, script and poems, along with the fact that it’s printed in a large font, and I hope one day we do get the story of the show as that’s something I’d really love to read.

Other than these minor complaints it is a book I was greatly impressed by, Bloom is hilariously self-deprecating throughout and the way she addresses the difficulties of her past is fascinating and packed full of wisdom. It’s a book which made me laugh out loud a great deal, and one which made me appreciate this incredibly talented and funny individual even more than I originally did, and if you have even a passing interest in Bloom’s work this is a book which I’m sure you’ll find yourself enjoying almost all of the time.

★★★★

Alex Finch.
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Related Links:
Rachel’s Official Site.
You can buy the book here on Amazon.

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