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.
I don’t usually read a lot of memoirs, and that’s not because I don’t like them. When done well, memoirs can be inspirational, motivational, and eye-opening. A good example of this is Anna Bligh’s April 2015 memoir Through the Wall. And another example is Rosie Waterland’s The Anti-Cool Girl.
Rosie is most known for her hilarious television recaps of the Australian series of The Bachelor. Her reviews are witty and sarcastic and they get thousands and thousands of views each night. But I didn’t start reading these recaps until this year, and then I went back and read all of her recaps from all of the previous seasons. You don’t even need to watch the show to enjoy the recaps.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2015, and Rosie is publishing her memoir about her troubled childhood. Rosie’s parents were flaky and unreliable, and they were not role models to her. But Rosie doesn’t paint them this way. She simply tells the facts of her life, but with interspersed humorous lines and quick-witted observations. You don’t really feel sorry for Rosie when you’re reading this book (except for a couple of heartbreaking chapters), you are actually mesmerised that she got through all of this.
It’s quite clear that Rosie is trying to paint her parents in the most positive light, and she reflects on her earlier years (and her years since) with surprising positivity. She doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her — she wants you to understand her.
This memoir is about who Rosie is. She doesn’t make excuses for her actions, and she doesn’t apologise. She doesn’t try to be what society wants from her, and she doesn’t change her actions to suit anybody else. And she’s fine with that, and the reader is too, after they devour her fantastic memoir in one sitting.
My Score: 9/10