(in the best possible way)
by Jenny Lawson
Henry Holt and Company, 2021. 285 pages.
Review written May 15, 2021, from a library book
I love Jenny Lawson’s books. She blogs as The Bloggess, and is indeed the queen of humor. Her books are sure to make me laugh out loud in many spots, and this one is no exception.
I’ve found that her books are a mix of laugh-out-loud humor and poignancy – especially when they talk about her struggles with mental and physical illnesses. The chapter about her dealings with her insurance company, trying to get life-saving care paid for, was infuriating and horrible – and I’m glad she’s going public with that story.
But also in the mix are sections of, shall we say, coarse humor, with many, many mentions of gender-specific body parts. For me, personally, there were far more mentions of penises than I ever want to think about. A chapter toward the end with Shark Tank ideas went way overboard for me. When she suggested skipping the chapter if you’re under seventeen, I should have realized I wouldn’t find it particularly funny. Oh well! It made me feel like the balance of funny, poignant, and coarse elements was a little off in this book and heavy on coarse. But I am still glad I read it, and I still laughed out loud over and over again while reading it.
However, at the very end, there’s a section about the cover illustration, and it sums up what Jenny Lawson does so wonderfully well – helping us see that we are broken, but we are still beautiful. Here’s how that section and the book finishes up:
And yet, there is something wonderful in embracing the peculiar and extraordinary monsters that make us unique. There is joy in accepting the curious and erratic beasts that force us to see the world in new ways. And there is an uncanny sort of fellowship that comes when you recognize the beasties that other people carry with them and the battles we are all fighting even when they seem invisible to the rest of the world.
We all have these monsters, I suspect, although they come from different places and have different names and causes. But what we do with them makes a difference. And, whenever I can, I take mine out in the sun and try to appreciate that the flowers it rips up from the garden can sometimes be just as lovely when stuck in the teeth of its terrible mouth.
Embrace your beasties. Love your awkwardness. Enjoy yourself. Celebrate the bizarreness that is you because, I assure you, you are more wondrous than you can possibly imagine . . . monsters and all.
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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.
Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.
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