My personal journey to adulthood began when I was eighteen years old. I was an introvert girl who had just left her small hometown and was about to live in a much bigger city. It was a September morning. My eyes were staring through the bus windows and everything was silent. Or maybe this is a product of my imagination; maybe there were children shouting, their mothers trying to calm them down; maybe there was a guy listening to loud music right next to me. But in my memory, everything was silent. The mountains were familiar; however, they somehow felt different, bigger, maybe even more beautiful. And suddenly I felt nostalgic, as tears started streaming down my face. I was sad, frustrated and - above everything - scared. A few months before, I had been studying hard to get into medical school. But I had failed. I wasn’t prepared for that, and for the first time, I felt lost. Instead of medicine, I was going to study dentistry. In a few hours, I would meet new and different people and talk to them. I would be living on my own, managing my money, studying many unknown subjects.
A decade later, I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. Although many years have passed, the journey isn’t easier or harder; it is a road trip full of loops, stops and detours. I did not know then that I would feel lost, insecure and scared on my journey to adulthood. But I also didn’t expect that I would meet amazing people, learn many things and even (try to) surpass a great personal barrier - my fear of flying. Eventually I realized there are no guidebooks or magical formulas when it comes to becoming an adult.
Growing up as an adult is the main theme of Mari Andrew’s “Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood”. Mari Andrew is a writer and an illustrator who started her activity as an author in 2015, after her father passed away. She started sharing her illustrations on her instagram account and eventually gained many followers, who loved her humorous and honest tone. This year, she finally published a book which documents just how challenging this journey to adulthood might prove to be.
The book has eight chapters: overcoming uncertainty, creating home, finding purpose, love and dating, heartbreak and loss, overcoming disappointment, discovering yourself and finding yourself. In each one, Mari Andrew tells us about her plans, how they changed along the years and how she had to adapt herself. For instance, she explains how she enjoyed traveling to Lisbon, how she got sick in Spain and how she spent many days alone dealing with a sudden paralysis due to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system. You can often empathize with her struggles and her stories.
“Am I There Yet?” is an autobiographical book that tries to show the reader the challenging aspects of being an grownup in a modern society. Many people will relate with the situations, such as healing after a breakup, creating a home in a distant place and finding your own voice in this social media era. The best aspect of this book is Mari Andrew’s illustrations and her smart observations, often accompanied with a humorous and ironical tone. It features many graphics, doodles and watercolor drawings (you can see some of them at her instagram account).
“Am I There Yet?” would have been a great companion a decade ago, when I was feeling lost and wondering if what I was going through was normal. In this modern world, it has been more common to share doubts and emotions on our social network accounts. This book will feel like a real companion for those who like to have books next to them. It is not a guidebook, as Mari Andrew points out, but it is a voice you can hear and relate to. And sometimes that is all we need.