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How to Grow Up: A Memoir
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How to Grow Up: A Memoir

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,500 ratings  ·  239 reviews
A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as “impossible to put down” (People)
As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house; she drank, smoked, snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; and she dated men and women, and sometimes both at once. But between hangovers and dead-end jobs, she
Paperback, 287 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by Plume
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  1,500 ratings  ·  239 reviews

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Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Michelle Tea is a working class, feminist, queer writer whose work I respect and treasure. Valencia and Rose of No Man's Land are two of my favorite novel/memoirs about growing up as a girl in the United States, period. She founded Sister Spit and has worked with City Lights Publisher to publish queer/feminist writers. More recently, I was enthralled by her column Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea and, although I'm not a parent, I have been following her most recent publishing project Mutha Mag ...more
Having read Rent Girl a while back, I figured getting an updated perspective on the life of Michelle Tea would be interesting. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed by this book of memoir-essays. I think this book could more aptly be titled "How To Feel Better About Making Really Expensive Purchases After Having Been Poor For A Long Time, And How That Totally Makes You Awesome And Able To Judge Other People Because Seriously, You Used To Be Poor And Now You Can Afford Really Expensive Purses And Des ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
ugggghhhhhh i have wasted so much time on michelle tea and i am officially over it. more like, how to grow smug and self-satisfied. how to justify your de-politicized domesticity. how to bore me to tears yet still scandalize me with casual references to botox as self-care. ugggghhhhhhhhh.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2015
This was nowhere as good as Bitch Magazine said it would be, but it's also not as bad as the NPR review suggested it is. ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have no doubt talked about my love for Michelle Tea on Goodreads before... but here I go again...

I first discovered Michelle Tea in my late twenties when I was in San Francisco, her books really spoke to me - this was me! these were my thoughts! her books that I read then felt very real and raw and I connected so much with them and also I loved reading about her eating vegan food... as a vegan I get excited when books have vegans in them... which doesn't happen very often. I then leant her boo
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer, memoir
I loved a lot of this but the voice is much more commercial than Tea's other work -- I mean, this is her most commercial book. She's speaking to a different audience, mostly straight cis women, it seems like; the content much less queer, at times maybe even de-queered... Still lots of wisdom about class, inequality, living broke, ambition, addiction, making "irresponsible" choices that actually are the best right choices. I tried to put into practice the money intention (reciting "money loves me ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I almost passed this book up, having read a handful of Tea's other self destructive memoirs (which were all great in their own way, but sometimes just mind candy). I'm glad I didn't though because this was just what I needed right now - a reminder that it's okay to grow up. Maybe sometimes I miss the freedom of being 23 + staying up until 4am dancing my way through a bottle of whiskey at a DIY space, but the truth is, that 23 yr old was also an asshole. The memoir revels in the benefits of being ...more
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received an advance copy of this from Penguin Books' First to Read program.

I'm not sold on "How to Grow Up." To its credit, it is an easy read. Tea is witty. Her descriptions are deadpan, irreverent, and at times, made me laugh out loud. Structurally, it is somewhat schizophrenic. I'm not sure if this is a memoir made of essays or a memoir made of essays with a few self-help how-to lists; what kind of book am I dealing with here? Maybe Tea is going for a style inspired by Quentin Crisp, and i
This was one of those books that I read just at the right time. Topics in this memoir in essays by legendary queer San Francisco writer include fashion, money, "scarcity issues," not living in a shithole punk house anymore, moisturizing, food, babies, marriage, exercising, spirituality, class, (not going to) college, and how to honour your 19-year-old despair-striken activist self without falling back into depsair. That last one was my favourite: "I had a terrible sort of revelation, in which al ...more
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
This is the memoir Lena Dunham wishes she wrote. Michelle Tea's adventures and exploits offer readers plenty to be entertained by, including the best description of a so-called "work-life balance" I've ever heard of. The real value of this book, though, is her truly hard-earned wisdom. If you can't afford therapy, or are not able to pay for as many sessions as you'd like, read this book. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, pr-first-to-read

Dear Reader,

I have long been a fan of Michelle Tea, which is why I picked this book up even though I don't tend to like memoirs. So, Tea's voice in this book balanced out a lot of my disinterest in learning "life lessons" from people. I found it to be, overall, a good read, although certainly nothing life-changing. Tea had a few great pieces of wisdom to impart, particularly (for me) in her chapter on "How to Break Up," advice I really could have used around the time I lived in Bos
Hannah Garden
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: june-2018
I started reading Michelle Tea about one hundred years ago when Imogen told me to and I have never looked back. She is SO GREAT. Funny and smart and earthy and mystical and just brimming and shimmering like a rain barrel with will and belief and love. The best.
Jessie McMains
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I have weird feelings about this book. I read an advance copy as part of Penguin's First-to-Read program, and I was really excited to get to read a Michelle Tea book before it was even released. And now I'm glad that I got to read an advance copy, because that means I didn't have to pay for it...

I read it in a day-and-a-half. And that's a testament to the quality of the writing, for sure - it pulled me along so that I only put it down when I absolutely HAD to. And when I first finished it, I tho
Bonnie G.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hey-hey-ladies
When you’ve been a punk rock blue collar junkie and alcoholic involved in sexy trade and you finally realize you want a fridge free of maggots... how do you grow up and be true to yourself?

I’ve met and seen her quite a few times and it’s a relief she is here and alive and thriving and doing the damn thing. There were some annoyances others mentioned about how this book is a guilt about getting money and her life together and a wife and stuff. But unless you grew up in a way similar to her; you w
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Tea's path to adulthood may have been rocky, but was ultimately smoothed by her becoming a successful and beloved writer. Most aspiring wordsmiths are not destined for that happy fate and may require an altogether different set of advice. Fortunately, financially failed Peter Pans (like me!) can still enjoy How to Grow Up as a charmingly witty recovery memoir. ...more
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tedious
I had high hopes for this book, especially being that I can identify with some of the themes (although I feel like I had my shit together a little earlier but whatever, it's all relative). Admittedly, I am unfamiliar with Michelle Tea's other writing and maybe if I were this book would have held my interest longer. Of course, on the flip side I also may not have been so quick to pick this book up at all.

Two stars for the fact that this writer held my interest through 27% of the book--I mean, she
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was great fun, and it made me laugh. A lot. Okay, so it's light reading, so what? Michelle Tea has a fresh way of looking at things and also of telling a story. I found myself thinking of my kids who are in their twenties when I read her description of some of the crazy, cheap, party houses she'd lived in when she was on her own in San Francisco at that age.
The author definitely has had an interesting life, and though she touches on her early years, this book focuses more on her twen
Alysa H.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Tea is a witty writer and many of the personal stories that she tells are poignant as well as quite funny. Different aspects will be relateable to different readers -- the teenage 80s rocker stuff to anyone who came of age during that time, the 12-steppy stuff to anyone who has struggled with addiction and recovery, the bad relationship stuff to, well, probably most women.

However, while I enjoyed different parts of Tea's memoir, I disliked others, and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole. Per
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, advice
I was provided a free advance digital copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Those who enjoyed Cheryl Strayed's blend of advice column and confessional in Tiny Beautiful Things should seek out this new book by Michelle Tea. Containing frank truths, funny anecdotes, and very little prescriptive "advice", it offers a reassurance to anyone suffering from class issues, misogyny, poverty, traumatic memories of bullying, dysfunctional families, or homophobia that it does, in
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Memoirs by people who have taken wayward paths to adult success/happiness are one of my favorite genres. If you like that kind of thing, you will probably like this. There is some 12-step/spiritual talk in here that might be like, too much for some people? I personally enjoyed reading about Michelle's relationship with Stevie Nicks God, but I can certainly see where your mileage might vary on that. For me, this was an entertaining and reassuring read. ...more
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, memoir
This was a really disappointing book. I got about 100 pages in before giving up. I couldn't get into the writing style at all - really simple and dismissive. Michelle Tea seems to have "grown up" into a boring, fairly wealthy lady who thinks all relationships must be monogamous or else they will definitely fail, who encourages Botox injections and vacations in Paris as a lovely way to get over your most recent ex, and who's definitely lost her sparkle for me. Too bad. ...more
Allison Floyd
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read Michelle Tea the way I eat potato chips: compulsively. There's plenty of evidence as to the why of that to be found in this collection of essays: heaps of LOL hilarity, gritty wisdom, and gutter glamour galore (although Tea has subsequently cleaned up her act, the grimy sequin patina of her wild years persists in her reminiscences). Growing up with Michelle Tea is a hoot! ...more
Feb 19, 2015 added it
What I appreciated most here was Michelle Tea's attempt to embrace her own contradictions (also known as nuances!) with candor. I've followed Michelle Tea's work with interest since my baby punk days, and I feel like I'm a few paces behind her on adulthood's meandering path. It is encouraging to read her reflections on how she made her own life a success story on her own terms. ...more
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this as a bible for self-discovery if that didn't play directly into the kind of ego inflation that leads so many of us down a bad path. It's funny, it's honest, it's clear, it's entertaining. It contains great truths on a platter of humility. We can all learn something about ourselves from it. ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Michelle Tea's memoirs are always bright lights in my reading sky - sharp, poignant, and honest. At this point I would probably read anything by her a whole, whole bunch. This book also hit home as I consider my 30s and what my plans for the future are, or arent'. ...more
Morgan Schulman
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I did not need to read about Michelle Tea getting Botox. Ever.

Once you read this shit you can't unread it, and Valencia will never be the same again.
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Did I just read a Michelle Tea book where she talks about botox? ...
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those seeking mindful mindlessness, or vice versa
Shelves: borrowed, plaguereads
Well, I guess it had to happen sometime: I just read a self-help book.

Withal, it was pretty entertaining.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This was the Tales of the City I wanted to read. Armistead Maupin may have been a shocking, intriguing, rollicking good time in 1978, but I was disappointed. His characters are shallow and silly, more "types" than people, and he creates scenes rather than tales. Apparently all the disparate storylines weave together in an ingenious way at some point, but I got bored and stopped reading. Maybe if I had been 20 in 1972 this would have felt evocative, but I was 20 in 2002, and even my love for San ...more
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Michelle Tea (born Michelle Tomasik) is an American author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose autobiographical works explore queer culture, feminism, race, class, prostitution, and other topics. She is originally from Chelsea, Massachusetts and currently lives in San Francisco. Her books, mostly memoirs, are known for their views into the queercore community. In 2012 Tea partnered with City ...more

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