Memoirs and autobiographies seem to be very hit and miss. I find that the biggest issue with them as a genre of writing is that expectations shape the way you view the book as a whole. I remember reading Tina Fey’s book and wondering why it was more filled with random non sequitur than any sort of insight into her time working at SNL or on 30 Rock. I expected a bit more of an inside look at her career and when that wasn’t what the book presented I viewed the work in a different light. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have an opinion of what it would be like going in.
When I picked this book up, I also had expectations. The difference is that I have been reading Jenny Lawson’s writing style extensively over the last few years on her blog and therefore could safely assume that her wit and tone would carry over to her memoir, and indeed it does. In fact there are some portions of the book that are transposed directly from the blog, like the story of Beyonce the metal chicken, a fan favorite that never gets old no matter how many times you read it.
I was only surprised by this book in good ways. There is a shocking amount of personal detail and insight that I was not expecting. This is very much a memoir. This is the personal tale of Jenny Lawson’s life, told through the filter of her own reflection and there is trauma and heartbreak there. It’s not entirely a yuck-yuck comedy memoir. I’m not ashamed to admit there were parts that truly moved me and will likely move anyone who isn’t a soul-less hellspawn to the verge of tears. This is a very vulnerable and human look at a person who had an nontraditional upbringing and had to deal with a myriad of issues in her adult life that nobody could hope to cope with well and yet comes out on the other side as an inspiring figure as a result.
I recommend the book wholeheartedly. I can’t write about myself with the level of honesty that Jenny does here. Her ability to use humor as a means of coping with personal adversity is quite admirable and she never comes off as a victim, as many people afflicted with the hardships she endures would. She deals with what life throws her in her own way and that is all any of us should aspire to do.
I feel like maybe I’ve covered the book as if it weren’t absolutely hilarious but that’s not the case. The book is laugh out loud funny 90% of the time and I found myself with a smile on my face throughout. It is one of the most enjoyable memoirs I have ever read and will probably read through it again sometime down the line just to put a smile on my face when I’m having a bad day.
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