This is the second memoir by author Connor Franta who is only 24 years old. One might doubt that such a young person has much to say and I wonder how many of his 5 million YouTube subscribers, Instagram and Twitter followers will ever read either of his books. Franta is not a celebrity because he won a talent show or was a reality television star but, rather, he made his name as a social influencer.
Undecided about his future, he stumbled into a business and art degree at college; the first because it was said to be an easy course and the second as a creative outlet. After graduation he turned his teenage enjoyment of watching YouTube videos into a highly successful career making them. He has since used this exposure to launch a record label, to raise money for philanthropic projects and to promote a line of clothing.
The author notes that the book is for himself and Note to Self is promoted as a memoir in which Franta displays ‘a side of himself he’s rarely shown’. Frankly, I believe the reader would have been better served if he had kept most of it hidden. The majority of the book is self‑indulgent twaddle with a rare, brief insight into what suffering from depression and self-doubt feels like.
His positive views on not bottling up one’s problems, the value of therapy and the need to constantly challenge the stigma associated with mental illness are most welcome. However, his solution of ‘I flee as soon as things aren’t working’ (page 141) displays little empathy or understanding for those who suffer with similar debilitating symptoms and do not have the time, money or ability to get on a plane to Portland, New York or London – all destinations Franta has fled to.
The poems, most of which relate to the breakup of a two-year relationship, scattered throughout the book are contrived with odd spacing and layouts which add nothing to their sense and meaning. Similarly, I found the photographs, which I presume are meant to be Art – with a capital A –neither relate to the text around them nor evoke any emotion or meaning. As a memoir which purports to provide insight into the inner life of the author ‘turning inward to move forward’, ostensibly written to help the rest of us also move forward, I cannot recommend this book.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 5
Released by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Release Date: April 2017
RRP: $35.00 hardcover, $10.99 ebook