Last week, I finished reading All I Know Now: Wonderings and Advice on Making Friends, Making Mistakes, Falling in (and Out of) Love, and Other Adventures in Growing Up Hopefully by the popular YouTuber, Carrie Hope Fletcher. I’ve been watching Carrie’s videos for a few years now; she claims the title of “Honorary Big Sister” to her community of “Hopefuls” and also happens to be currently playing Eponine in the West End’s production of Les Miserables.
All I Know Now is based on Carrie’s blog of the same name, on which she answered questions asked by the Hopefuls and posted about little epiphanies she had as a young adult. (She’s only 23 years old!) Her book serves as a guide through the world of teenage-dom to try to save Hopefuls the trouble of making as many mistakes as Carrie did growing up.
Shortly after Carrie released her first book in the U.S. in September, I ordered it from Amazon and began to read it. I knew that not all of the advice would really apply to me, since I’m just on the brink of my twenties, but I wanted to read it anyway just because I love Carrie’s videos and wanted to support her. Because of this, and because it’s set up in a guidebook format, I ended up reading little chunks at a time between reading other books, i.e., Sounds Like Me (Sara Bareilles), Bossypants (Tina Fey), Cleopatra (Duane W. Roller), That Was Then, This Is Now (S.E. Hinton), and Yes Please (Amy Poehler). When I finished reading Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt), I read the final “Act” in Carrie’s book (Its chapters are organized into “Acts,” just like scenes in a musical) and finished it (finally!!). So here’s what I thought of All I Know Now:
First of all, the overall premise of this book was not only endearing but also smart. Growing up, I used just about every American Girl publication to help me through my day-to-day life, but I couldn’t always find the answers to my problems in them (although, there was a period of time when I kept The Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles in my backpack for easy references when my school friends weren’t being super friendly). It was not only a good idea, but one made out of great kindness, a typical Carrie-Hope-Fletcher-move.
At times, I did feel that her writing was a bit preachy (I start to cringe when people use commands too frequently in writing), but I imagine if I were younger, I wouldn’t find it very troubling at all.
Even though the book’s purpose is slightly different, I did gain at least one important lesson from All I Know Now: People are people just as you are a person.
I’ve been watching Carrie’s videos for a long time now, and I’ve seen what she has chosen to project in her under-five-minute videos; I’ve enjoyed her original songs and her thoughts on books, as well as the little behind-the-scenes snippets from Les Mis. But you never truly know a person until they have told you their stories, which is what Carrie does in her book.
She tells tales not only of being bullied, but even being the bully in some cases. She tells stories of lying to her parents, of letting boys take control of her mind, of feeling pressured by people in her life and online. She–the queen of positivity–often finds it difficult not to let the haters get to her (especially in the YouTube comments section). She has flaws; she is a mortal human being. She’s just like the rest of us (except she’s written a book–and is writing another–and has a major theatrical role in London, but you know, close enough).
Most of the advice in Carrie’s book goes without saying (You’ll just have to read it!); it mostly covers difficulties with friends and relationships, finding self-confidence amidst bullies and negativity, properly conducting yourself on the Internet, dreaming big, and valuing others and yourself.
I think what’s most important for me at this time in my life is that I recognize Carrie’s youth–she is only four years older than I am–and her accomplishments thus far. Obviously, she has different opportunities than I have and a completely different life journey (a lesson from All I Know Now!); she has never been to college and has found her calling in musical theater (which I love but am not pursuing) and writing secondly (which is my main priority). But still, she is 23 and not only has written a book, but has somehow balanced a boyfriend, family, and 8 shows a week on top of that. So if Carrie can do that, then I can get out of bed in the morning, go to work, and write a couple hundred words of a short story. I can get somewhere, too.
I’m happy that Carrie wrote this book, not just for the younger people who watch her on YouTube, but mostly for her. I can’t imagine the sense of accomplishment she felt when she had compiled her main life lessons into a neat and tidy book. It must have taken hours upon hours, and it is an achievement that I share with her in spirit.
Have you read All I Know Now? How about a book written by another YouTuber? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!!