Tag Archives: Mental Illness

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: Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375704024, September 2000, 304pp.)

The Short of It:

Norwegian Wood is arguably THE book that put Murakami on the map, yet its transparency and predictability frustrated me.

The Rest of It:

Murakami is known for his odd, quirky characters and his affinity for talking cats, but Norwegian Wood is a departure from that. Yes, the characters are quirky but probably the least quirky I’ve encountered thus far and I’ve read eight of his books in the past year and a half.

Essentially, the book functions as a love story. At its center is Toru Watanabe. He’s an average guy and a decent student. While at college, he befriends Kizuki and Naoko who happen to be dating but the two of them are not complete without the addition of Toru’s friendship. All three of them acknowledge this at some point in their relationship, yet when Kizuki dies tragically, Naoko and Toru remain friends, but their friendship is challenged by Naoko’s inability to function without Kizuki. This forces her to spend some time away, recuperating from her sadness.

While away, Toru goes about his life as he normally would trying to figure out where he stands with Naoko and then in walks Midori. Midori has her own issues and although the two take comfort in each other’s company, they can’t seem to move past the Toru/Naoko connection. What starts off as an innocent friendship turns into something else, but how far can it go when your heart also loves another?

My reaction to the book may have been due to the translation but the writing was simplistic to me. Overly so, and that’s not something I expect while reading a Murakami novel. The dialogue was stilted and almost seemed forced in some places. At first, I enjoyed the slowness of it, but when the dialogue continued this way, I began to get frustrated with it. It really played out as a “He Said, She Said” and its predictability in both plot and pattern nearly put me to sleep at one point. But, there are telltale signs of Murakami’s familiar style too which is probably why I continued reading. His characters are always so interesting even if what they had to say wasn’t.

However, there was a “creep” factor to this novel that I’ve not experienced with any of Murakami’s other books. The “relations” between some of the characters set my teeth on edge. Many have said this is one of Murakami’s more erotic novels but I didn’t find it to be overly erotic or graphic. However, I did feel uncomfortable numerous times while reading it. The conversations about sex just didn’t seem realistic me. You wouldn’t walk up to a friend and say, “Hey, it would be nice to see your penis just to see how impressive it is. Don’t you think?” Not a line from the book but it’s a good example of what I am talking about. Polite and smutty all at the same time.

Overall, I enjoyed the musical references and listened to Norwegian Wood a few times while reading but the story was very slow and the high creep factor turned me off. Not one of my favorites, but I suspect that readers who do not appreciate the surreal quality of his other novels, might prefer the straight-forwardness of this one.

Note from Ti: Haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m curious enough to check it out.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.