Rosie Waterland has never been cool. Growing up in a housing commission, Rosie was cursed with a near-perfect, beautiful older sister who dressed like Mariah Carey on a Best & Less budget while Rosie was still struggling with various toilet mishaps. She soon realised that she was the Doug Pitt to her sister’s Brad, and that cool was not going to be her currency in this life.
But that was only one of the problems Rosie faced. With two addicts for parents, she grew up amidst rehab stays, AA meetings, overdoses, narrow escapes from drug dealers and a merry-go-round of dodgy boyfriends in her mother’s life. Rosie watched as her dad passed out/was arrested/vomited, and had to talk her mum out of killing herself.
As an adult, trying to come to grips with her less than conventional childhood, Rosie navigated her way through eating disorders, nude acting roles, mental health issues and awkward Tinder dates. Then she had an epiphany: to stop pretending to be who she wasn’t and embrace her true self – a girl who loved drinking wine in her underpants on Sunday nights – and become an Anti-Cool Girl.
An irrepressible, blackly comic memoir, Rosie Waterland’s story is a clarion call for Anti-Cool Girls everywhere.
This book is brutal. But strangely, I also found myself laughing out loud. Frequently. Such is the brilliance of Rosie’s captivating writing. I was given The Anti-Cool Girl by the gorgeous Rebecca from The Anchored Gypsy for my 21st and I couldn’t think of a more perfect book to read at this time in my life.
Rosie is pretty famous in Australia, and our office in particular, for her hilarious Bachelor/Bachelorette recaps. But don’t go into The Anti-Cool Girl thinking it’s going to be light and funny. It’s not. Rosie discusses everything from living with drug addicted parents and dodgy step-dads to horrendous bullying at an elite private school, suicide attempts, eating disorders, mental health issues and awkward sexual encounters. Despite these incredibly confronting topics, I found this book hilarious. If you haven’t experienced Rosie’s writing before, it’s hard to describe just how brilliantly she combines humour with topics most wouldn’t dare talk about.
I think this honest discussion of normally taboo topics is also part of what makes The Anti-Cool Girl so fabulous. While not everyone who reads this will have lived through identical experiences, I’m sure most people will relate to at least one aspect of this book. For me, the final chapter was a reminder that it’s so important to be true to yourself and not live life trying to reach perfect, popular or cool. I joke about being a grandma all the time because I’d rather spend Saturday night on the couch with my favourite TV show or a good book than out at the clubs. But really, I don’t care if that makes me uncool. I’m having a fantastic time and really, that’s the most important thing.
As soon as I finished this, I knew it would be a book I’d revisit again and again. Writing this review has made me feel that all over again. The Anti-Cool Girl might be brutal, but it’s also honest, intelligent, laugh-out-loud funny and one of the best books I’ve ever read.