Book Review: Ali Wentworth’s ‘Go Ask Ali: Half-Baked Advice’

Picture of Ali Wentworth and the cover of her new book, "Go Ask Ali"
Ali Wentworth has a new book, "Go Ask Ali," out Tuesday, Photo: Harper Collins

Ali Wentworth’s book, Go Ask Ali: Half-Baked Advice (and Free Lemonade), begins with a list of everything Wentworth is not. “I am not a truthsayer, therapist, or advice columnist. I’m not even particularly sage.” She follows up on this promise with personal anecdotes and advice, never coming across as preachy or as a know-it-all. Instead, Wentworth’s writing is refreshing, casual, as if you’re having a conversation with a girlfriend. And she’s funny—very funny, in fact. But the topics she approaches come from honesty, and not everything she discusses is pretty. But it’s representative of life as a woman, a friend, mother and wife.

Many young women deal with a constant influx of engagement announcements and baby pictures from friends while remaining single and working on a career. This is what the first chapter in Wentworth’s book discusses, and it will make any young woman in that situation feel much better. Wentworth begins with Liz who is having a meltdown as she realizes, on the day of her wedding, that she’s not with the right man. But she goes through with it anyway for all the wrong reasons. Liz ends up getting divorced.

The rest of the chapter, “Gutting to the Chapel,” is filled with horror stories of women who ignored their gut. This is something Wentworth addresses throughout the book. When you ignore an instinct, the consequences are usually negative. Hearing this through Wentworth’s witty, fast-paced conversational writing style makes these situations easy to read and to identify with. Even to laugh at, despite the tragic quality they possess.

There’s a campy quality to the writing. This seems to be Wentworth’s comedy style, and it works, even if not as well as it does on camera. This is particularly true for the advice section of the book. Wentworth shines when telling stories, giving her own interpretation of the events throughout with perfect comedic timing. But certain parts, specifically toward the end of the chapters, seem unnecessary and can take you out of the book for a moment. In the chapter, “There was once a man who flew to Nantucket,” Wentworth ends on “DON’T FLY!!!” This was an emotional chapter, which anyone who has flown with even a small amount of turbulence will understand. But the end felt forced, as if Wentworth needed to end on a “funny” note instead of letting the writing that came before speak for itself.

Go Ask Ali is a quick read. It’s funny and light, and you can make it through in one enjoyable trip to the beach. But the continuity isn’t completely there, which becomes clear when reading it in one sitting. Yes, Wentworth’s tone is similar in all of the pieces and they all center on what she has learned in her life, but a reader might like to feel all of the pieces build to something more cohesive when put together. Each piece is, however, enjoyable, and each has its own merit.

It’s refreshing to be able to look at topics without a political agenda. Wentworth lets her readers know this is not the purpose of her collection in the introduction. Her voice is clear and distinct, and she talks candidly about every aspect of her life (while leaving out or changing names). In a disclaimer, Wentworth states that some of her writing is fact and some is fiction. But you wouldn’t know it when reading the book. It all feels very real and honest, sometimes brutally so. Overall, this is an important book to read for women of all ages because we all need a good laugh.

The book is available now at your local bookstore.

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