Author: Natalie Beach
Rating: 3 Stars
Publication Date: June 20th, 2023
Genre: Memoir in Essays
Format read: e-ARC
Find the Book: StoryGraph | Goodreads
I received an electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
If you’re anything like me, you were captivated by the story of Caroline Calloway—an Instagram influencer who desperately wanted to be famous but seemingly couldn’t pull it together long enough to capitalize on said fame once she had it. You were among the first people to read The Cut article published in September of 2019 by her ghostwriter, and you even considered signing up for her Fyre Festival of a tour. Well, unlike you (probably) I will not leave a stone unturned! And with that in mind, I dove headfirst into Adult Drama: And Other Essays, the memoir written by infamous ghostwriter Natalie Beach.
The Cut article was, of course, reprinted, about two essays in, but other than that the references to Calloway were sparse. What I wanted when I began reading this book was a detailed creative nonfiction tale of the adderall-driven days and nights spent writing on Calloway’s floor. I wanted what Beach’s original memoir project promised to be. And sure, it wasn’t going to be about her, but I was hoping that she would inject the frenetic magic of her Calloway character into her own life. It seemed like that would make sense, given it was her that wrote most of it.
What I found, however, is that for the most part Natalie Beach lived a normal life. She, like me, grew up playing travel soccer in Connecticut. She fell prey to brands such as Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, which promised to fit everyone while simultaneously fitting nobody. The memoir was relatable in the way it captured and then elaborated on normal human experiences, managing to turn “being a shopgirl” into a commentary on the human condition. Essays were well-researched, citing sources and studies in addition to just discussing Beach’s life. This was necessary because, like I said, Beach’s life was rather unoriginal, with the glaring exception of Calloway.
It’s likely my preconceived idea of what this memoir would be that lead to my disappointment. Beach is a talented writer and her essays were well done. Were this a human being I had prior investment in, I most likely would have loved the essays. As it was, there were about half which I adored and half that I skimmed. If you are someone who frequently reads researched first person essays, then this will be right up your alley, just in book form. Go into it expecting more of a series of Cut articles than a true memoir, and you’ll enjoy your reading experience.