One of the downsides to living and going to college in Maine is that I didn’t hear about blogging until it was too late. I had a Livejournal for about 6 months, sure, but I had no idea you could just have your own website. Many of the bloggers from the 2000s that are a bit older than I am have become book authors: Jenny Lawson being one of them. The good thing is that instead of having to tune in and subscribe to get their writing, the book form compiles it all for us and allows it to be read at our leisure.
For some of the blogger-turned-author writers this creates an excellent set of essays, varied in tone and subject, and I can experience and learn about them and walk away feeling like I understand them better and in some cases, understand myself better. I walk away with a new view on things, a deeper understanding of the world. I hold high standards for memoir, which is why I don’t read much of it.
I had to get Jenny’s new book though, because I’ve always enjoyed her perspectives in the past. Her exhausting, nonstop, runon sentence writing style gives the reader a taste of how exhausting anxiety/depression/ADD can be. Her humor is dry and fast, the best jokes playing her wacky non-sequitur existence off her “normal” husband Victor who seems to always be on a conference call.
This book has some very heartfelt moments. Her chapter that is just a letter she wrote to her health insurance company that continued to refuse to cover the drugs she needs speaks for a lot of us who just want what we need to live. Another few chapters on her grandmother’s struggles with dementia and how memory can be a fickle thing really spoke to me as well. The difference between her usual spastic funny stories and these chapters is stark and caused me mental whiplash. It was like reading the essays of a completely different person.
Which leads me to my main critique of the book: I wish it had chosen one style or the other. In the past I had appreciated Jenny’s presentation of her mental and physical illnesses as taking the good with the bad and celebrating them both but in this book that felt…repetitive I guess. More than one chapter ends with the same kind of paragraph, a downside to collecting blog posts that would come after time had passed into a book to be read one after the other – they start to all sound the same. And when so many of them were the same old types of stories from past books, I was disappointed and just a little bored. There was enough that was new and different to keep me reading through to the end, but I think for any future books I’ll reserve them at the library instead or wait for a Kindle deal.
If you love Jenny you’ll love this book, but then again if you love Jenny you’ve already got it. Another big plus to being an early blogger is having a following, which Jenny has in spades. So I guess if you don’t know her or aren’t a follower already, I would say that if you struggle with mental illness or chronic physical illness and you need to know you aren’t alone in your struggles, Jenny Lawson is the perfect person to get to know through her writing, her blog, and her social media presence. She’ll help you see that there’s always something to get out of bed for, even when getting out of bed is the most difficult thing. I strongly recommend this book if this describes you. It never hurts to hear one more time that you are not alone.
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