Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else

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It’s important, I think, to bear in mind this book’s subtitle, “Essays from a Girl from Somewhere Else,” lest you be tempted to imagine this as a memoir. Higgins isn’t trying to give you a clearly connected through-line of her life–an organized photo album, let’s say–but rather a series of reflective moments–a stack of snapshots. And that’s not to detract from the book; in fact, I imagine Higgins prefers it this way, as this is a book not about discovering a definitive narrative for her life but of the struggle we all face in even knowing what that would look like. And so Higgins offers a series of “essays,” thoughtful considerations of moments ranging from personally to more objectively notable, all of which she crafts to evoke–often in surprising ways–their emotional and philosophical significance.

Higgins is a comedienne, and her writing is certainly wry and funny, but it would be a mistake to expect a comedian’s jaded or glib story presentation from this book. Because, in fact, Higgins is impressively insightful and incisive in her essays, reaching for what’s thoughtful rather than just for the punchline. The cover blurb from Glamour declares her the metaphorical daughter of Tina Fey and David Sedaris, but I think that sells her short. She’s perhaps more akin to Hannah Gadsby (known in America for her Netflix special “Nanette”) in her use of humor to examine and weigh the importance of her own lived experience. Indeed, Higgins explores a number of weighty situations, from her work in a comedy workshop in Iraq to her experience at immigration protests, and she doesn’t shy away from expressing the genuine feeling at the heart of those difficult experiences. I came away from Maeve in America feeling a much deeper respect for the sensitivity and insightfulness of a woman I had previously known “just” for her comedy.


Reviewed By:

Author Maeve Higgins
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Penguin Books
Publish Date 2018-08-07
ISBN 9780143130161
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category Humor-Fiction
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