Disclaimer: If you are not a fan of crude and twisted humor or are easily offended, then you may want to skip this review. For those of you who like their humor on the inappropriate side, then I have the book for you!
Author: Jenny Lawson
Genre: Non-Fiction > Memoir • Humor
Version: Hardback (352 pages)
Publisher: Flatiron Books (September 22, 2015)
In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”
“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”
Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?
Moving right along with my Books by the Banks TBR, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson was up to bat. Books by the Banks is a Book Festival that I am attending in October 2016, therefore I decided to try and read as many books by confirmed authors as I could before the event. I was super excited when I read that Jenny Lawson was on the confirmed author list for BBTB, as I had heard about her and her popular blog, The Bloggess. I must admit, I am not one for nonfiction, however if I do read it, it is usually a memoir from a comedian, which is just what Furiously Happy is.
In Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson wants to challenge the stigma around depression and mental illness. Jenny struggles with depression, anxiety, and a variety of other disorders. I LOVE that Jenny is so willing to speak out about her struggles with mental illness. In today’s society, mental illness is seen as such a taboo topic, so it is refreshing to see someone who is not ashamed to talk about it. She definitely doesn’t sugar coat what life is like with these types of disorders. I don’t personally struggle with mental illness, but I can assume that the best thing about this book is that it is relatable to people who struggle with similar disorders. Actually, she mentions in the book that 24+ people have contacted her to tell her that they were on the verge of committing suicide when they found her blog and/or books and didn’t go through with it because they felt like they found someone they could relate to. Not everyone may understand Jenny, but there are 24+ people who are alive today because they do.
I adore the whole concept behind the “Furiously Happy Movement.” It’s like Jenny is giving her mental illness the middle finger. She is determined to not let mental illness win, and has decided that she is going to do what makes her happy, which apparently entails her playing with dead animals… I mean, the animals are already dead*, so she isn’t hurting anything…To each their own I say! I must admit, I found her taxidermied animal escapades highly entertaining.
*No animals were harmed in the writing of this book. All animals died of natural causes.
Jenny begins the book with disclaimers that this book isn’t going to be for everyone, and I agree. I actually have a fellow blogger friend that DNF this book and was highly insulted by it. She felt that Jenny Lawson was exploiting mental illness in order to profit from it. Another criticism of the book is that she often refers to herself as “crazy,” which some feel is degrading to people with mental illness. I personally did not get the vibe that Jenny Lawson was exploiting mental illness for profit, but rather that Jenny uses humor to cope with her disorders. Furthermore, in my opinion, Jenny wasn’t using the label “crazy” in a negative way towards those with mental illness, but that calls herself “crazy” because she realizes her behavior is unusual.
I love Jenny Lawson. Not in a creepy stalkerish way, but in a totally appropriate fangirl kind of way. See, when you label yourself a “fangirl” it makes you seem less creepy. Does she have a fan club? If so, where do I sign up? (Note to self: start Jenny Lawson fan club) I literally laughed out loud throughout this entire book. Not just in a few instances, I’m talking multiple times a chapter. My husband was highly annoyed with me while reading this and at one point banished me to the living room saying: “If you are going to laugh like a hyena, go to the living room. I’m trying to sleep here.” Jenny is crude, inappropriate, odd, but most of all, she is REAL. I really admire that she is 100% herself, and doesn’t apologize for it. You can either take her or leave her.
I read this book at the perfect time in my life. I chose to read Furiously Happy the week leading up to my daughter having a minor surgical procedure. Even though it was routine outpatient surgery, I was still filled with anxiety about it. Reading this book in the evenings really helped ease my anxiety and took my mind off things. I even took the book to the hospital with me to read during the procedure. After the nurses took my daughter away and I had wiped the tears from my eyes, I immediately opened the book because I knew the waiting was going to be torture. I think the nurses were judging me a little bit since I’m sure my laughing could be heard in the hallways of the hospital…Thank you Jenny Lawson for getting me through a stressful time in my life.
Furiously Happy is a quick-paced read. Potential readers need to realize that this is a collection of funny short stories, and not a cohesive memoir. There really is no flow between chapters. Basically, the majority of this book is random hilarious bullshit with a few serious sentiments mixed in. This book isn’t going to be for everyone, but it was definitely for me.
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 (www.thebloggess.com) is award-winning and extremely popular.