Generally, my favorite books are fiction with a strong storyline and a ribbon of hope weaved throughout. When I read I like to escape to amazing lives and fantastic experiences, and good fiction delivers that. That’s why I don’t often read nonfiction. Or memoir. It’s also why I favor good TV dramas over reality television … but that’s a discussion for another day.
Still, when the opportunity arose to review Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, I was intrigued enough to say yes. I remember a few years back when a girl I went to high school with was literally thrilled to meet her — and that was my introduction to this funny, witty, Lawson is the voice behind The Bloggess, a blog and Twitter persona of pretty legendary popularity.
Now, this book. This memoir. It was unlike anything I have ever, ever read before. Lawson has a very unique writing style that is very conversational — to the point where she brings other people (like her editor and her husband) into the conversational tone of it all. It almost makes you, as the reader, feel like a voyeur into her life — which is strangely alluring.
As for the content. Well, wow. Lawson describes an uncomfortable, unusual childhood, using humor to share moments that are truly cringeworthy. It’s filled with wild animals, really unusual experiences and general awkwardness. While there is great humor to be found in the stories about her childhood, it made me a little sad too. Actually, uncomfortable is probably a better word because dead squirrels as puppets totally makes me want to hide. Or scream.
Still, all of this shaped who she is and sometimes you have to take something as a whole — the uncomfortable parts and the ones that make you giggle in spite of yourself.
But the more I read, the more I found myself drawn in by the prevailing love and hope weaved through the stories and moments. Moreover, Lawson’s telling of the weird, morbid and bizarre moments in her life are shared with raw wit and honesty that makes it hard not to appreciate the genius behind a book that regularly breaks all the rules (even acknowledging her editor’s role and comments within the book — it’s like breaking down the imaginary wall between the finished product and the process).
This memoir is unlike anything you’ve ever read. It’s not a neat, tidy story. It’s really uncomfortable at times. And what happens is just so bizarre. But that’s the beauty of it, really. It’s not the parts of it, but the whole of it that makes it really worth reading. Swear.
We’re talking about Let’s Pretend This Never Happened at the BlogHer Book Club for the next few weeks. Join us?
Disclosure: I am being compensated for this review by the BlogHer Book Club and also received a review copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are, as always, my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.