“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.”
A picture of me and Jenny (and Copernicus)
I have met Jenny Lawson. I had her sign not only my book, but a book for a friend (it was her birthday and she introduced me to the blog, so I made it her birthday gift - she said it may have been the best gift ever). I love this woman's blog unabashedly, and when I found out she was doing a signing in my state, I dropped everything to go. By myself. Because I didn't care if I was alone - the tribe was there. Jenny was there. It was enough. As such, you can expect this to be a rave review. There was really no other way to write it.
This memoir is a mostly factual account of Jenny's life, childhood to present. There are some elaborations and exaggerations for the sake of the humor of her narratives, but all of it serves to enhance the book. If you've read any of The Bloggess, you know you are in for some crazy, stream of consciousness writing about insane stories that are almost too ridiculous to be true. The craziest part is that most of them ARE true. And laughing at these situations makes you feel so much better about your own life.
One of the things I enjoyed most about reading this was how enlightening it was. I've enjoyed Jenny's humor as well as her crusade towards awareness of mental illness (she suffers from anxiety and depression - both things I can relate to). But I didn't know where she came from, really, and this filled in those blanks. Her childhood stories with her taxidermist father, in their dirt poor life out in the Texas countryside, are interesting and informative. Hers was a home where playing tag could end with you running INSIDE a deer; where Dad could wake you in the middle of the night to show you the Magic Squirrel, who is actually dead and being used like a macabre hand puppet. Her adolescence was a time where being Goth kept people away from her and trying to fit in led to being stuck in a cow's vagina. This woman has turned years of therapy inducing crazy into some of the funniest stories I have ever heard.
I also enjoyed reading about her relationship with Victor, her husband (who my own husband refused to believe was real until this book had pictures to prove it). He is incredibly quirky himself, and learning about how they met and got together made their relationship make way more sense. As much as he complains about the taxidermied, dressed up animals in the house, or phone calls about attacking vultures with machetes to protect the dead dog, or how Jenny tells incredibly inappropriate stories in social situations as a response to her anxiety - you can tell he wouldn't have it any other way.
One of my other favorite things about this book is how much heart it has. Yes, there is a lot to laugh at. And yes, a lot of her life is ripe for comedy sketches. But then there are the real things, the stuff that isn't funny. The three miscarriages. The way anxiety can sometimes overcome her and take over her life. The loss of the family pet (ok, some of that was really funny). Learning from a dog attack that you are, in fact, willing to put yourself in harm's way to protect your child. She really exposes herself here, and knowing her battles with mental illness, that makes her strength to be able to do so that much more powerful. Jenny let's you hurt with her and learn with her, as well as laugh with (and occasionally at) her. And THAT is what a great memoir should be - something that really let's you feel like you know the person behind all those words. I came away from this book feeling like I knew Jenny so much better, and being proud to be part of her tribe.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There aren't any caveats to this recommendation, no "if you don't like x, then you won't like this" kind of addendums. If you don't love this book, you may be critically broken inside. And it may lead to you finding a giant metal chicken named Beyonce outside your door. Knock, knock, motherfucker, indeed.