cover image Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood

Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood

Mari Andrew. Clarkson Potter, $19.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6143-1

In a market flush with self-help books, Andrew’s illustrated debut stands out for its candidness. Through simple doodle drawings, with a watercolor wash, interspersed with poignant essays both handwritten and typed, Andrew depicts herself wandering through the dark map of her 20s in search of purpose. Reeling from a breakup and the death of her father in 2015, Andrew decided to make a drawing each day and post it online. Three years later, her sketches have gained her more than 700,000 Instagram followers, and the best are culled for this volume to complement mostly original work. (“Choose one,” says a caption over pretty little tombstones, each bearing a possible inscription: “She Was Too Afraid To Start. She Explored. She Spent 5 Decades Comparing Herself to Others.”) Most of Andrew’s drawings offer heartfelt insights (a tiny circular diagram depicts the two stages of grief: “Feel Crazy → Feel Less Crazy”), but a deliciously snide humor colors her reflections on dating—like depicting her exes as different cups of coffee (“Diner Coffee at 2AM: Cheap + Lukewarm, Got the Job Done”). On the cusp of 30, her compass points to a truism: “What I love most about living isn’t accomplishing things, but experiencing them.” So what does Andrew imagine her ideal tombstone will say? “Here lies Mari. She enjoyed herself.” As Andrew heals from rejection and loss, her drawings capture how she learns to love herself, encouraging readers to approach life challenges with the same generous spirit. Agent: Cindy Uh, Thompson Literary Agency. (Mar.)

This review has been updated to clarify that only some of the illustrations originally appeared on the author's Instagram account.