Thursday, April 20, 2017

Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy
Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Author: Jenny Lawson
Publication Date: 9/22/15
Pages: 329
Genre: Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I read Lawson's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Date Completed: 4/3/17

Summary: Lawson, a Texan with a quirky family history, keeps you laughing as she discusses her very real struggles with anxiety, depression, and mental illness. 

What I Thought: I read Lawson's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, back in the very first year of this blog. I remember laughing out loud so much reading that book. Lawson touched some on her struggles with mental illness, but the bulk of the book was her wild stories.

This time around, there are less outrageous stories. I mean, they are definitely there. If this is your first Lawson book, there is plenty here to keep you well entertained. I found myself laughing a lot once again. This time, however, Lawson puts her very personal struggles front and center. The ridiculous is still along for the ride, as the dark humor and personal insight was in the first book, but now the dark humor and daily reality of Lawson's life have taken the reins. 

And it's powerful.

I've never seen or heard someone speak so openly about their struggles with mental illness. Lawson shares deeply intimate details of her reality. She talks about her fears, her coping mechanisms, the days she isn't coping, and the ways she struggles through. She leaves nothing behind the veil of privacy. She opens her world and lets us in, something she may very well be unable to do if we actually showed up at her door. There's a whole chapter about how she sometimes hides when the doorbell rings.

If you don't have any mental illness of your own, don't know anyone with mental illness, or are still clinging to the historical stigma surrounding it, this book is not for you. However, if you want to understand the life behind the diagnosis better, this is the perfect read. Lawson's gift of humor helps make these serious topics more palatable. 

This book made me think a lot about Heads Together, the movement that the young British royals have started in an effort to reduce the stigma around mental illness in Britain and around the world. They are taking a very different approach than Lawson, but the outcome is similar. Slowly, we are breaking down the barriers, we are helping people understand what mental illness is, and how to best love those who battle it. Most importantly, I think, books like this are saying, "You are not alone. You are loved. You are valued. You are welcome." And that it so important. 

Lawson is doing important work. She is fighting back. Fighting back against the stigma, fighting back against her own demons. Along the way, she is creating a powerful community and making us laugh uproariously, too. I mean, if you can read her awesome Star Wars logistics rant about Storm Trooper life insurance and other such details and not laugh, then you are missing something special. 

I think Lawson herself describes and encapsulates the book best when she says, "If you don't like this book then maybe you're just not crazy enough to enjoy it. Either way, you win."

Quotes I Loved: 

  • "That's one of the frightening things about writing a book that no one ever tells you. You have to pin down your thoughts and opinions and then they exist on a page, ungrowing, forever."
  • "If you make something no one hates, no one will love it either."
Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibly
If You Liked This, Try: The Reason I Jump / It's Not Okay / Girl in the Dark
Other Books By Jenny Lawson: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

A Reduced Review: Lawson keeps you laughing as she discusses her very real struggles with anxiety, depression, and mental illness. 

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