4 stars

THE PLOT: ‘Misfits’ by Michaela Coel is a written version of the actress, scriptwriter and producer’s MacTaggart Lecture. Given in 2018, the lecture originally addressed notable dignitaries in the production industry with an honest and open account of Coel’s life, drawing wider points about race, gender and class using allegory and personal anecdotes. In particular, Coel ruminates on the role of misfits within the creative industries and the importance of being an outsider. Edited, and topped and tailed with new writing, this very short book is a declaration against fitting in.

RATING: It’s hard to characterise this book. Lecture, essay, personal manifesto – none of those words give it justice. It’s simply compelling writing from one of the brilliant creative minds of our generation. I’m usually wary of “celebrity” books as they often feel like a quick cash grab. Yes, everyone has a story. No, not everyone needs to tell theirs. But this felt very real and simple. At around 100 very small pages with a very big typeface, I read this in one sitting and I’m really glad I did. I’d give it four stars.

GOOD BITS: This book feels very honest. In a world where there’s so much noise, this felt refreshingly down to earth. I could hear Michaela Cole’s voice as I read it and the writing felt very authentic. It almost reads as received wisdom from her life experiences and it made me think about the production industry as wider than the content I consume. Information about her life growing up in East London gives this book a real heart and I enjoyed the context behind the creation of her hit show ‘Chewing Gum’. I also loved the moth imagery on the cover and its significance in the book.

NOT GOOD BITS: The layout of this very short book included bold, standout quotes around every ten pages. I understand the stylistic choice and it looked good, but unfortunately these quotes either repeated the previous page or were excerpts from the next page. The lack of consistency with the quotes meant that the flow of reading was disrupted. Additionally, and going against the author’s sentiment about the juxtaposition of creativity and commerciality, I’m also wary of the price point. At £9.99 for such a small book, I wonder if a £5.99 price point would make it more inclusive.

OVERALL: This would be a great stocking filler for the creative in your life. I’d recommend it to fans of essay collections like ‘Intimations’ by Zadie Smith and ‘The Good Immigrant’, or ‘Sister Sista’ by Candice Brathwaite.

Thank you to Ebury Books for my #gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

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