Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened By Jenny Lawson
Synopsis (taken from the back cover of 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.
Initially, I was captivated by Lawson’s wit, and sense of humor. There was something familiar about her self deprecating humor, especially when describing her childhood and, later, her relationship with her husband. However, after a while, the self deprecation became stale and boring, like the story itself.
There were a few laugh out loud moments. In fact, I was reading on the subway last week and I was laughing so hard that people turned to look at me. However, as the book progressed, I lost interest. I know that memoirs vary between being plot driven and character driven, but in this case, both the character development and the movement of the plot were sorely lacking. I found myself looking for a drive to the story to keep my attention. As the the book shifted from Lawson recounting the details of her childhood (which was the funniest part) to adulthood, the book became repetitive. I had no interest in reading about the various fights she had with her husband on a daily basis, which took up the majority of the second half of the book.
I’ll give her credit though: The raw, unveiled description of her anxiety attacks was appreciated. People tend to cover up the horror and the pain of having an anxiety disorder, and I thought that she tackled the topic skillfully and with humor.
“Call me Ishmael. I won’t answer to it, because it’s not my name, but it’s much more agreeable than most of the things I’ve been called.”
“It just occurred to me that if English teachers assigned this book as required reading, that means that the school district just had to buy a ton of my books, so technically, I owe you one, English teachers. Except that now that I think about it, my tax dollars paid for those books, so technically I’m kind of paying for people to read my own book, and I don’t know whether to be mad or not.”
“Whenever I see disheveled homeless people on the street, screaming to no one in particular about how bears are evil masterminds trying to take over the city, I immediately assume that years earlier they’d found themselves discussing this subject at a dinner party, horrified themselves into a complete mental breakdown and then everyone else just walked away. And now here this homeless woman is, years later, still trying to find a way to wrap up this conversation with dignity and failing miserably.”
Overall: I would not jump to recommend this book to the faint of heart. This book is not for everyone. It definitely wasn’t my taste, but I still appreciated it. I can understand why this book was a New York Times bestseller, but it’s not going down in my list of ‘recommended books.” If you’re looking for something raunchy, raw, funny, and a little disgusting, then this is a read for you. Otherwise, stick to something a bit easier on the stomach.
Next Week’s Read: Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter