Kelly Oxford is a legitimate Twitter phenomenon with more than 507,000 followers, including Jimmy Kimmel and Mindy Kaling. She’s not the first person to parlay humorous tweets into a book deal (Justin Halpern did it in 2010 with Sh*t My Dad Says), but this 35-year-old mother of three is something special. Her new book, Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar (It Books, $26), proves her sassy sense of humor isn’t limited to 140-character bursts. Oxford can really write, and these short, biographical essays about growing up awkward (and frequently stoned) in Canada are every bit as funny as deadpan tweets such as, “How do you get a red wine stain off a baby?”
Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar begins with a 6-year-old Oxford trying to stage her adaption of Star Wars by auditioning all the kids in her neighborhood. There’s also a painful exchange with the teacher at her French immersion school. It’s a smart place to start, because even at that young age, Oxford had a flair for drama, a healthy disregard for authority, and the support and encouragement of her parents.
Oxford spends the next three essays washing dishes at a local German eatery, trying to join her junior high school’s peer counseling group and having her eyebrows plucked for the first time as she pursues her dream of becoming a teen modeling sensation.
Oxford hits her stride in Chapter Five (“I Peed My Pants and Threw Up on a Chinese Man”) where she shares the hilarious details of buying a pack of cigarettes on a full bladder and lying to her parents about going to a party where she smokes and drinks and carries on.
There’s something very familiar about the stories in Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar, and not just because Oxford fills up every essay with wisecracks and pop-culture references (Blossom, Saved By the Bell, Full House, Melrose Place, etc.) Lots of young women fall in love with Leonardo DiCaprio, but not everyone travels to California to seek him out. In “My Zoo,” Oxford plans an outing with her kids and figures out a very creative (and messy) way to get out of a speeding ticket.
Locals will get a kick out of Oxford’s trip to Las Vegas, as the guest of magician David Copperfield. The whole story takes two chapters and includes strip clubs, alcohol and a glimpse inside Copperfield’s Magic Museum. Equally entertaining is a challenging trip to Disneyland with Oxford’s three children (Salinger, Henry and Beatrice) in tow.
Kelly Oxford is just getting warmed up. In addition to Twitter and her new book, she’s written a screenplay and dabbled in television. If you want to be an Oxford scholar, Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar is a hilarious place to start. ★★★★☆
Stay cool with “Bookini,” our poolside reading series by M. Scott Krause.
[ librarian loves ]
Selected by Jeanne Goodrich, executive director for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.
Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing (Viking, $11) fleshes out in fiction the real-life story of Caleb, a Wampanoag who became the first Native American graduate of Harvard in 1665. The book looks at the mid-17th-century settlement of what is now Martha’s Vineyard, through the eyes of a young woman whose father is an island minister who hopes to convert the natives. She befriends Caleb and learns about the island’s flora and fauna, and his customs and beliefs. Caleb is determined to become educated to help his people deal with the English and in so doing crosses over, not just to the mainland but to a world very different than the one in which he grew up.