Jenny Lawson is a blogger and also has a daughter, but she’s not a mommy blogger. Irreverent, wildly funny, often inappropriate, she’s one of a new breed of online diarists—like Heather B. Armstrong or Kelly Oxford—who are as likely to drop the F-bomb as boast about their offspring.
In this memoir, her first book, Lawson covers topics like dead animals (not her fault—dad was a professional taxidermist), teenage misadventures, irritating things her husband does (emphatically conveyed to him through a series of Post-It notes)—and did we mention the dead animals? Almost everything Lawson writes about is laugh-out-loud funny. That’s partly because of the sheer improbability of her experiences. A very short sampling: Her father made a puppet out of a dead squirrel to entertain his two young daughters, Lawson played doctor during a high school animal husbandry class, and she once told a room full of her husband’s co-workers she’d been stabbed in the face by a serial killer (she hadn’t).
But it’s Lawson’s voice that makes this a risky choice for subway reading. She writes like a grown-up denizen of Dawson’s Creek, if it had been on HBO—a generous helping of curse words, along with copious italics and charmingly rambling sentences.
It’s that voice that carries the reader through the book’s more serious moments. Lawson candidly talks about her first pregnancy, which resulted in a stillbirth, and the two subsequent miscarriages she had before she gave birth to her daughter, Hailey. She also details her struggles with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and an anxiety disorder; she was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and talks about dealing with the chronic condition.
There’s no sense of careful curating in Lawson’s chapters; they’re the very definition of lumps, warts and all. But that’s kind of her style. Whether it’s the hilarious, the mortifying or the deeply tragic, Lawson firmly believes that people are defined by how they handle the less than perfect, and that there’s “joy in embracing the utter absurdity of life.” Joy is definitely what you’ll find in these pages.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), Jenny Lawson, $28.