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Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life - Quinn Cummings I remember a little bit about Quinn Cummings' career as a youth actor - her Academy-Award-nominated role in the movie The Goodbye Girl, her joining the cast of the TV drama Family - but she's been kind of a "whatever happened to...?" for quite a long time. She stepped out of the limelight about 20 years ago, and grew up to be an entrepreneur, a mom and a blogger who has achieved the blogger's dream - a book. I didn't know about her blog until I heard about the book, but it's a long-established one; with archives going back to 2005, she was part of the first wave of mom bloggers. And while she doesn't act any more, she does make the occasional videoblog to complement her written one.

Notes from the Underwire is Quinn's first published collection, and it's a nice mix of pieces. It has some elements of memoir, but it's episodic rather than tracing a linear narrative. A reader curious about her acting years, or who's trying to fill in the blanks between that portion of her life and how she got to where she is now, isn't going to come away with a lot of biographical information. However, that reader will get to share in some of Quinn's more memorable - and frequently embarrassing, if usually well-intentioned - experiences, and this reader was highly entertained by them.

This wasn't a fall-down-laughing book for me, but it was a reliable source of smiles and chuckles of recognition, and I came across a lot of humorous and recognizable observations that I had to read out loud and share with my husband. Discussions about home ownership, Los Angeles traffic, and common child-rearing experiences all rang bells; "Carson Has Two Mommies," which talks about addressing her daughter's questions about birth and death, was a standout (and made me feel a little better about my then-10-year-old's concerns about whether or not there's an afterlife). Also somewhat related to the topic of death are "Like a Tattoo on Your Butt," about her mother's battle with cancer, and "A Big Mean Pair of Scissors," the story of her stint as a volunteer on one of the first AIDS hotlines - but I feel the need to assure you that these pieces are not morbid. They're emotionally moving, and yes, they're also funny.

There are plenty of lighter essays as well, and while some pieces do have the feel of fleshed-out blog posts, I enjoyed the book as a whole - it's humorous and insightful, and its author isn't afraid to laugh at herself. I feel like I did get to know Quinn Cummings a little better, and while I'm looking forward to another book from her one of these days, I'll keep reading her blog in the meantime.