The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. Book Review.
The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. Book Review.
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.
“Your second set of parents will abandon you. Damn.”
Rosie Waterland in The Anti-Cool Girl
The Anti-Cool Girl is a memoir unlike any other. Chapter titles such as ‘Your mum will be a sex worker and you’ll have no idea‘ and ‘You will be in rehab several times before you’re ten years old‘ give you some idea of what this book is about.
Rosie Waterland isn’t remarkable for winning Olympic gold, or an Oscar, or the Prime Ministership. She is remarkable simply for being who she is. For surviving her formative years with the odds stacked against her and coming out the other side a strong and self-assured young woman. She recounts her experiences with brutal honesty and humour, without an ounce of bitterness.
Rosie and her older sister knew nothing of stability. They moved home countless times with their mother, from housing commission and various boyfriends, to rehab facilities and stints in foster care or with distant family members. And through all this time, Rosie just wanted to fit in, to belong, to be one of the effortlessly ‘cool’ girls like her sister.
Rosie does recall times when her mother was sober and tender towards her daughters, but these moments were few and largely overshadowed by the alcohol, drugs, violence and neglect.
She has even fewer pleasant memories of her father and felt only relief when he passed away, for he could never give her ‘toxic butterflies’ again.
As she became more independent, Rosie found life away from her family unit, however toxic it may have been, was just as problematic – only she was facing a whole new set of problems. Now battling her own mental illness and using boyfriends as medicine, she struggled with weight, self-esteem, confidence, and the everyday tasks that come with being an adult. And now more than ever, she would do whatever she felt she had to do, to fit in with the crowd.
Rosie has lived through more pain and hardship than anyone should bear. It is impressive that she has emerged with her humour, humility and grace intact.
She has been incredibly candid with the stories in her memoir. Rosie has trusted her readers with her most private thoughts and memories without seeking pity or sympathy, and that must be applauded.
She has remained gentle towards her parents, and told of their flaws and mistakes honestly whilst acknowledging their own set of circumstances to which they fell victim, including untreated mental illness.
Rosie paints a vivid picture of a childhood clouded by addiction and neglect, and clearly demonstrates how childhood trauma insidiously and more blatantly shapes adulthood.
This book is not for everyone. It does contain frequent coarse language and graphic toilet humour so if that offends you, give this one a miss. For everyone else, this is compelling reading – I could not put it down.
This is Rosie’s story, but this is also an account of how many thousands of children in Australia grow up, in underprivileged and impoverished families affected by addiction and undiagnosed and/or untreated mental illness.
It is heartbreaking, but Rosie does end this memoir on a hopeful note. And the honesty, reflection, understanding and forgiveness that these pages hold provide a real warmth.
Rosie Waterland is a writer for Mamamia, the largest independent women’s website in Australia. She first found fame writing hilarious recaps of The Bachelor episodes, which I found an entertaining way to follow the show without actually having to watch the show!
I wasn’t interested in reading this book until I found her new podcast, titled ‘Mum Says My Memoir is a Lie.’ I listened to the first two episodes and had to read the book!
I highly recommend both the book and podcast.
Have you read The Anti-Cool Girl, or are you listening to Rosie’s podcast? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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