Desert Isle Keeper
I’ve been following Jenny Lawson’s blog for some time now. If you don’t know of The Bloggess, stop reading this and go check it out. Jenny is hysterically funny, and writes about her life in a way that has attracted millions. What is so captivating about her writing is that she talks of her mental issues (and occasionally her physical ones) with a refreshing bluntness. In Furiously Happy, her second book, Jenny talks about how she has dealt with her anxiety, depression, and ADD by consciously living life furiously happily.
As with her first book, Jenny doesn’t just tell a story, she tells many of them. Her first book was a collection of stories about growing up in her family, about meeting her husband, and about figuring out what she wanted to do with life. This second book is also a collection of stories, but all dealing with her mental illnesses, and how she interacts with the world. Because why not have a humor book about mental illness?
Read by the author, I found the audiobook to be both fascinating and infinitely approachable. Jenny’s voice reading her own words shows not only the effort she has put into sharing her story with the world, but how hard it can be. She talks about the anxiety she has when doing book signings, how she just wants to hide in the bathroom at parties, and how she wanted to save the bacteria on her face from the facial she got a Groupon for. It’s the great mix of humor and truth she’s known for, read in her little-girl voice with a slight Texan twang.
It’s a little long, but I feel like this quote fully describes where Jenny is coming from in this book:
I can tell you that “Just cheer up” is almost universally looked at as the most unhelpful depression cure ever. It’s pretty much the equivalent of telling someone who just had their legs amputated to “just walk it off.” Some people don’t understand that for a lot of us, mental illness is a severe chemical imbalance rather than just having “case of the Mondays.” Those same well-meaning people will tell me that I’m keeping myself from recovering because I really “just need to cheer up and smile.” That’s when I consider chopping off their arms and then blaming them for not picking up their severed arms so they can go to the hospital to get reattached.
“Just pick them up and take them to get fixed. IT’S NOT THAT HARD, SARAH. I pick up stuff all the time. We all do. No, I’m not going to help you because you have to learn to do this for yourself. I won’t always be around to help you, you now. I’m sure you could if you just tried. Honestly, it’s like you don’t even want to have arms.”
There’s an estimate that about 25% of people have some sort of mental illness, and, at least in the US, there’s still a lot of stigma attached to that. What women like Jenny Lawson have done is make their lives transparent, so we can actually see what that illness looks like. As someone who has experienced depression and anxiety, I really appreciate how much of herself Jenny puts into her books and her blog.
I’d definitely recommend Jenny Lawson’s work, and Furiously Happy in particular, to anyone and everyone. Listening to her read her book is even better, because it feels like sitting down next to a friend with a glass of wine (or 3, depending on your friends!) and just talking about all the crap going on in your head. If you aren’t sure, check out her blog and read a few posts – it’s definitely worth the time.
Breakdown of Grade: Narration: A, Content: A Unabridged. Length 8 hours 20 minutes