Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
Last week I wrote about my experience meeting Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess fame and getting my copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) signed. I had a few days being in a tizzy because Amazon either refused to let me know when the book shipped or that email got lost in cyberspace, but finally the book arrived and I sat down immediately (read two days later) and finished the book in one sitting (read one sitting on the train and one sitting in my apartment and one sitting in the basement waiting for Jenny to make her appearance). Ok, fine, so I mostly finished the book in one sitting, just like this book is mostly a memoir.
Jenny Lawson is a humor blogger with a huge following, known for her wit, propensity to buy taxidermy animals, and openness about her struggles with depression and anxiety. After deciding she wanted to pen her memoir to pass down her crazy stories to her daughter, Jenny set out to find her voice on the internet with her blog. More than a decade later, Jenny has truly found her voice and has now passed on her legacy to everyone. Saving her best stories for the memoir, Jenny tells of growing up in Texas with a father who was a taxidermist, wearing plastic bag boots in the snow, and putting her arm up a cow’s vagina.
Jenny also speaks frankly about her depression, panic attacks, and social anxieties. She talks about finding the right combination of medications to help. She speaks about her immune disorder and how it affected her ability to stay pregnant and her struggle to bring Hailey into the world. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a warm remembrance of a strange childhood, tempered by truth about life’s struggles while growing up and trying to fit into the world (and happily never really succeeding), and seeing life’s tragedies through a lens of humor when you can, while accepting that life hands us giant metal roosters and the death of a beloved animal in the same breath. I laughed so hard while reading this book that I cried, and then I turned the next page and tears of sadness streamed down my face in sympathy. Jenny openly shares her emotions with her readers and I found myself truly relating to the joys and struggles she wrote about. This is the only memoir I’ve read where I felt I understood the person about whom I was reading. (So, maybe I haven’t read a lot of memoirs, but they are usually just so utterly boring!)
Whenever I reunite with childhood friends we always reminisce about our crazy years growing up, and I feel that if I were ever to sit down and swap stories with Jenny (she would win of course), she would understand what it is like to grow up with odd parents, surrounded by a menagerie of animals, and the feeling of never really fitting in. While I have never had my hand up a cow’s vagina, I’ve ridden on the back of one more than once and one particular heifer attempt to kill me (I swear it was on purpose!) when she head butted me as I passed by the concrete steps leading to the lower part of the barn and I barely managed to fall down them without banging my head open. I’ve had a lot of animals with crazy names, and then I got tired of naming animals so when it came around to my turn to name something (we went in order, and I’m the oldest of five, so that tells you how many animals there have been over the years) I started naming them after the books of the Bible. I got up to Lamentations if my memory serves me correctly. My grandmother made us play clothes, long shorts and simple shirts in bright colors and patterns, that we wore when jumping on trampolines in the mud and bonnets she made for us. I’m so not even exaggerating. (Thankfully my fashion sense has changed a bit since then.) I’ve seen bunnies literally spill their guts when stalked by a cat and my father had to shoot them to put them out of their misery (the bunnies, not the cats), I’ve seen two deer gutted (blaugh), and I hate chickens so much that I wish they would DIE, DIE, DIE!!!
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, was therapy in a book for me. I laughed, I remembered, I cried, and at the end I set the book aside with a smile. Jenny Lawson writes her story with humor, exasperation, and wonder. So many lessons learned in such a short time. I definitely recommend picking up a copy and seeing the world in a new light. But be warned, the book is totally engrossing so set aside the time to consume the whole thing in one gulp. Though technically a collection of humor essays (hence the mostly a memoir), the chapters flow from one to another so well, it is hard to put down. If interested, Jenny is doing a book club/read-along with her memoir and every Tuesday night will be on her Good Reads forum to talk about her tales and answer questions.
I’d also like the point out that I have evidence now that, as a person, I rock. Because in spite of my Cavewoman antics a couple of weeks ago, Jenny found my posting about meeting her and commented that she only told special people they rock. I maybe texted my mother, “OH MY GOD THE BLOGGESS WROTE ON MY BLOG!!!!!