Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Title: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
Author: Jenny Lawson
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format and Price: E-Book at $13.99
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Known for her sardonic wit and her hysterically skewed outlook on life, Jenny Lawson has made millions of people question their own sanity, as they found themselves admitting that they, too, often wondered why Jesus wasn’t classified as a zombie, or laughed to the point of bladder failure when she accidentally forgot that she mailed herself a cobra. Her blog is award-winning and extremely popular.

About The Book:
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.

General Observations:
~They Really Do Love Each Other: While you could say this about the Lawson family as a whole, I loved the chapters and moments between Jenny and her sister Lisa (I have experienced those exact same well intentioned “you could try to be a little more normal/social” moments with my own sister). I also enjoyed the moments between Jenny and Victor. I suppose because they resonate so closely with my own “normal” younger sister (encouraging me to do my best and try new things) and my “straight-man” partner.

However, unlike in Furiously Happy, I got the slight impression (and maybe it’s just me) that Jenny Lawson was trying a little too hard to be “BEHOLD MY WEIRD FAMILY” (all families are weird and dysfunctional, it’s not a competition, but Jenny Lawson’s family would definitely entitle her to an award). Now, in Furiously Happy, she’d make comments like “my dad’s a taxidermist, he does weird stuff occasionally” but the way she wrote it, like it was totally normal for that to happen, was what made it weird and/or hilarious.

~Cerebus Shift: I wasn’t quiet sure whether to categorize the situation as Cerebus Syndrome (“something that started out being funny ends up depressing the hell out of you”) or Mood Whiplash, but then I decided it was a bit of both. The Meeting the In-laws and The Wedding chapters were hilarious, but the chapters surrounding Jenny and Victor’s attempts to get pregnant with a child were also super depressing (with the occassional funny moment thrown in). I could name other examples, like how her dog died (super depressing) and then how she had to defend his body from vultures with a machete (hilarious).

I’m not saying Life shouldn’t have it’s sad and painful moments, the book wouldn’t be half as good or interesting without those sad moments to act as contrast. If anything I tend to take the same “Laugh and The World Laughs With You” approach to most of my sad and painful moments (or at least I try to), it’s only just that I found the transition between the two to be a little jarring.

~The Echos of Familiarity: While I have never placed my hand up a cow’s vagina and gotten stuck, I very much related to Jenny Lawson’s High School experience (I felt the same way that she did about fitting in, I was always going to be too obviously weird so there wasn’t much point in even trying) and other life experiences, like house parties.

I know that Jenny Lawson and I aren’t similar, I’m sure we’re very different in some regards, but reading her books has repeatedly given me that “Me too! Me too!” feeling and the “Oh, there’s a word for that? Huh, so that’s what that is” feeling. It feels good to know you’re not the only one who feels or thinks a particular way about something.

In conclusion, while I did enjoy Furiously Happy more so that Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, both books are highly enjoyable and recommendable. I can imagine myself giving these two books as Christmas/Birthday gifts to most of the people I know.

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