Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Title: Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
Author: Jenny Lawson
Format: Paperback, 370 pages
Pub. Date: March 5th 2013
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

Includes a new chapter!

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.



I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book. I wasn't familiar with Jenny Lawson, or her blog. But, I remember when everyone was reading it and that it's a best seller and had won a Goodreads Award, so I thought that I would check it out. Overall, it was okay.

The first half of this book was absolutely hilarious. Jenny Lawson had an.... interesting childhood to say the least. She has a great voice for telling these childhood stories, where they're relatable, funny, and just wild enough that they still seem believable. I really appreciated that peppered throughout this collection of essays were photos from her past. It makes it that much more "real" which I think drives home how funny they are. In fact, I actually read a few chapters aloud to my mother. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I've done that. It's been years, at least.

There's a good couple of quotes sprinkled in here, like “You should just accept who you are, flaws and all, because if you try to be someone you aren't, then eventually some turkey is going to shit all over your well-crafted facade, so you might as well save yourself the effort and enjoy your zombie books.” Another good one is “In short? It is exhausting being me. Pretending to be normal is draining and requires amazing amounts of energy and Xanax.” Both of these are relatable to me. If nothing else, I appreciate that Lawson has grown into a person who is unapologetically herself. Even if that person is a little exhausting.

The second half, I rapidly lost interest. The stories no longer were quirky, but boring and a bit obnoxious as they shifted from childhood to adulthood. There's a lot of rambling and repetition. I understand that she has an anxiety disorder, and that this is how it presents in conversations. But it needed editing. Plus, the melodramatics of THIS THING HAPPENED TO ME just kidding it was this actual much smaller, normal thing that happens to most people. Then there's a thousand footnotes, and notes to the editor, that also get tiring and don't add much to the narrative.

She's clearly funny. The first half of the book proved that. But I'm also clearly not her target audience. Lots of people seem to like her, but, I was left disappointed by this memoir. She has quite a few more books published since this one came out, but those are going to be a pass from me. It seems very much like something a book club might read. If you had a troubling childhood or were the weird kid growing up, you might like this. Saddle up for profanity and an excessive amount of the word "vagina".


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