By Abigail Ang
Title: Caspar Lee
By Caspar Lee and Emily Riordan Lee
Published by Penguin Random House UK
No. of Pages: 271
Available in all major bookstores
The eponymous writing debut of South African YouTube sensation Caspar Lee and his mother, Emily Riordan Lee, captures the same sort of boyish mirth and warmth enjoyed by his fanbase of over six million subscribers.
While numerous books by YouTube vloggers have popped up in recent years, Caspar Lee sets itself apart through a unique format. Mostly penned by his mother, the biography’s pages contain Caspar’s input through multi-coloured highlights, annotations and illustrations that add his unique perspective or comedic commentary, especially when the content is of an embarrassing nature.
Not one to shy away from intimacy, Caspar’s childhood is candidly recounted with refreshing aplomb – from his tantrums over cereal selection to getting pranked by Theodora, his older sister, to down an intense Marmite concoction – brought to life by an abundance of photographs.
While celebrating life’s highs, Caspar Lee does not censor its lows. Especially so in early days, the Lee family took on an almost nomadic lifestyle due to financial struggles and regional dangers borne out of racial tension in areas of South Africa. Despite the bouts of violence, young Caspar remained innocently unaware of these harsh aspects of reality, mistaking a break-in as “an elaborate game involving cops and robbers”.
The book also offers a pleasant balance of humour, sensitivity and depth. Growing up exposed Caspar to new challenges, including Tourette Syndrome (TS). The condition deeply affected his academic and personal life, resulting in tricky situations like snorting during classes and a close encounter with an untamed elephant because of Caspar’s uncontrollable whistling.
Making videos proved to be a suitable outlet for Caspar, whose school drama project soon evolved into a burgeoning YouTube channel. It is this part of the book that perfectly encapsulates the charm, wit and gumption of the South African teen, and the unconditional love and support of his family.
Despite being heavily targeted at Caspar’s YouTube viewers, the book is a heartwarming anthology of family ties, coming of age, comedy and hope that proves an exceptional read with or without his celebrity status. With that said, it’s hard not to be won over after finishing Caspar Lee.