Tag Archives: Memoir

Review: Broken (In the Best Possible Way)

Broken

Broken (In the Best Possible Way)
By Jenny Lawson
Henry Holt and Co., 9781250077035, April 6, 2021, 304pp.

The Short of It:

I love a good laugh. It can fix many things and let’s face it, we haven’t been laughing too much this past year. If you want to use that muscle again, give this book a try.

The Rest of It:

I knew of Jenny Lawson, AKA “The Bloggess” from my early blogging days but I had never really followed her on any of the social media platforms and then I heard that she had written a book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I remember thinking, good for her. Then a few years later, another book, Furiously Happy. Both books did amazingly well. But they seemed to be humorous in nature and so I never got to them. I love a good laugh but a book of humorous things? Not really my thing.

Then, I was offered a review copy of Broken (In the Best Possible Way) and my memory of her came flooding back to me. Wait a second. She writes about mental illness and depression? After sneaking a few pages in while perusing the copy that was just sent to me, I immediately knew I would read it and I would probably enjoy it a lot. True and true.

Broken is a memoir told through stories. True stories of her struggle with mental illness, depression, and even her debilitating auto-immune disorder which she suffered greatly from until she found the right medication.

Lawson says out loud, what we only think internally.

She writes about many things, mostly awkward encounters with others including neighbors, postal employees, doctors, dentists, you name it. She talks about losing her shoes while wearing them. Yes, literally stepping out of a shoe only to leave it behind somewhere. She talks about using a Shop-Vac to clean up pet food only to realize that in doing so, she has also managed to suck up raw poop sewage which of course is gross. One story after another and somehow this insecure, eccentric woman slowly becomes the friend you never had. As “out there” as some of this content is, none of it is new or odd to me. I’ve had many conversations with friends about some of the things she talks about and sometimes, even with just myself. Yes, weird.

In the section titled Awkwarding Brings Us Together, I had to stop reading because I was crying so hard from laughing. In this section, she shares Tweets that people shared with her in their attempt to one-up her in awkwardness.

Then, she includes a letter to her insurance company. Here, she gets serious. Insurance companies can deny you the one medication that you need to stay alive or they can give it to you at extreme cost. Having battled depressing most of her life, these appeals are the norm and yet in including this in the book, she is speaking to everyone who has ever had to fight for their life. It’s a little “go team!” moment if you ask me.

Broken may not be for everyone. Lawson is very blunt and her self-deprecating humor might get on your nerves a little if you aren’t used to that type of humor. She speaks of body parts quite frankly and there is a lot of  language. She is not pretending to be anyone in what she writes. This feels 100% authentic to me so her style grew on me. If you need something different and you want to laugh, then this is the book for you. And of course, if you suffer from depression, you may find some comfort in what she shares here as well.

Have you read her before?

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Brat – An 80’s Story

Brat: An 80's Story

Brat: An 80’s Story
By Andrew McCarthy
Grand Central Publishing, 9781538754276, May 11, 2021, 240pp.

The Short of It:

This is probably the first time I’ve ever found myself completely enamored by a memoir.

The Rest of It:

Most people know who he is. Andrew McCarthy did many films, perhaps not all of them successful but films like Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, St. Elmo’s Fire and Weekend at Bernie’s were surprisingly successful and seemed to make him a household name. My favorite film Less Than Zero, is oddly enough, not McCarthy’s favorite by far. From the title, you would think that much of this book is about the 80’s and yes, there’s plenty of that decade covered in this book but it’s more about how the term “brat pack” made and broke, what was a very vulnerable kid just trying to find himself.

The push-pull nature of McCarthy’s story is so readable. He was given some breaks but never felt that he belonged. His insecurity about who he was or who he was being asked to portray, caused him a great deal of nervousness and anxiety. He would often self-sabotage himself by consuming too much drink, and later drugs. The substance abuse only masking his insecurities for the moment.

Anyone who has ever doubted themselves can relate to his story. There’s a raw, vulnerability here which I always felt came through his characters too. This is not a story about Hollywood and all of its glitz and glam and it’s not about what we all perceived to be wild success. This is a story about a young man struggling to find a place for himself in the world.

What I really loved about this book is that it so delicately balances what we expect from him, and what he needed to share with readers. He includes plenty of information about each of his films and how they came to be. He also includes a lot on the business of acting itself, which is why I am handing this copy over to my daughter for her to read. But in addition to all of that, he tells us about his family, introduces us to the people who made an impact on him along the way, and what he’s learned from it all.

I’ve read McCarthy before and he’s quite a good writer but he really outdid himself with this one. If you ever wondered what happened to him after the 80’s, you might recall some TV shows he was in and his directorial work for the very popular Orange is the New Black series on Netflix. In my mind, he has had a very successful film career but with this book, I feel that he’s firmly planted his shoes into writing and I hope that’s the case because I would love to read more from him.

Note: This book comes out May 11th so pre-order it now!

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.