Tag Archives: mental illness

Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

5 Stars

Fair warning, yet another book that you shouldn’t read around your co-workers or strangers unless you want to get really strange looks as you laugh so hard your tea comes out of your nose.  This book isn’t meant to be a comedy or a humor book, it’s a memoir.  But you truly can’t help yourself.  There are times where you know you shouldn’t be laughing, but it just bubbles up and bursts out.

Jenny takes you through her less than normal upbringing in a very small Texas town.  It’s funny stuff, there are serious issues she raises, like poverty, but they are approached in a way that you smile at how her family pushed through and thrived.  Bread-bag shoes and all!  And her parents are definitely NOT the normal parents that you and I probably grew up with.  Did your dad come into your room at night with a magical talking squirrel?  How about throwing a live bobcat at your fiancée?  Having your father explain that he’s not making stew but he’s boiling skulls to your future in-laws?  What about a taxidermy shop?  Yeah, didn’t think so!  It’s amazing that Jenny and her sister survived at all!

Jenny doesn’t shy away from anything and talks very candidly about her life, the good and the bad.  She talks about miscarriages, suicide, mental illness and dead animals.  Her candor and her self-awareness is amazing and her ability to speak about subjects that many of us would simply bury and hide away is something that I find amazing.  She has shown that mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of or to hide from the world.  It helped shape who she is and she’s sharing her world with us and it’s amazing.

At one point I was tempted to switch careers and go into Human Resources.  And the chapter names alone are worth the price of admission!

I would definitely recommend Jenny Lawson’s books to anyone who wants to sit down and read vignettes about real life and how we deal with it and how it effects us and those around us.  I really can’t accurately describe this book in any meaningful way because it’s a memoir about a real person.  She’s not a historical figure, mega celebrity, etc.  She’s a perfectly abnormal human being and this is the story of her life so far and how she got to this place.

I recommended Jenny’s books to my daughter, who suffers from severe social anxiety and depression.  She was brave enough to go to a book signing and had the privilege of meeting Jenny and one of her most prized possessions is the book that Jenny signed and the selfie that she was allowed to take.  She was able to see that she’s so much more than her mental illness and she doesn’t have to let that illness define who she is or take away her happiness or her life.  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened lets the reader know that it’s okay to be broken, we’re all a little broken and that’s okay.  What’s important is to never give up and live Furiously Happy (had to plug her other book, which was amazing too!).

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Filed under Biography/Memoir, Humor

Review: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

5 Stars and a tremendous Thank You to the author.

As someone who has very dear loved ones with various different forms of mental illness but having never truly suffered from it myself, this book was a window into their world.  A way to give me a small sample of what they deal with on a daily basis and how real the struggle is to just even appear to be normal and have their shit together.  To hope that they too have the strength to own their crazy and be okay with it.  To remember that this world is so much better with them in it and there may be easier ways but they definitely won’t be better.

The author talks about being furiously happy.  Taking those moments where the depression and anxiety are somewhat dormant and testing the limits and doing things that she may have never otherwise done just to say that she’s taking control of her life and is going to make memories of happy times and fun things so that when she’s in the depths of darkness, she can look back on things like having Rory the grinning stuffed raccoon ride her cats in an amazing cat rodeo and see that little glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.  Full disclosure…I want to meet Rory and Rory II, they sound like they would be awesome to hang out with.

There’s an amazing section where the author includes an appendix in the middle of the book.  This appendix is an interview with the author where she’s interviewed by her husband.  The interaction is hilarious but her insight and her ability to make a ‘normal’ person understand what she and others face on a daily basis is just astounding.  I can only hope that I can take some of what I’ve learned by reading this book and using it to help myself understand those who I know are suffering with similar problems and do everything I can to help.  Even if that means letting them curl up in a ball and hide in their room, shutting out the world.  And that’s okay.

I think that she has an amazing voice and it’s very clear that this book, while absolutely hilarious, is also one person’s story about their own mental illness.  Something that’s been treated with so much stigma that most people hide it away and never tell anyone about it.  I would recommend this book to anyone who suffers from mental illness, cares for someone who suffers or just wants to know more about what life is like having to live in a body that constantly lies to you and wants you to harm yourself and just give up.  There is plenty of laughter (the people on the bus looked at me funny) and plenty of times where you just want to reach through and give her a hug.

The epilogue was incredibly emotional and it’s definitely a section I will find myself reading from time to time because it truly is that poignant.  The final words are probably one of the strongest statements I’ve ever read.  “Sometimes we walk in sunlight with everyone else.  Sometimes we live underwater and fight and grow.  And sometimes…sometimes we fly.”

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  I’m actually getting copies for those loved ones that I mentioned.  They may or may not read it, but if they do, it will remind them that they are not alone.  That there are other people out there who understand, who know what they go through on a daily basis.  They don’t have to feel bad or broken.  They can own their crazy and be furiously happy because of and in spite of it.

Now where can I find a koala jumpsuit…


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Filed under Biography/Memoir, Humor

Review: Plea of Insanity by Jillianne Hoffman

3 Stars

I think there are possibly more editions of this book, because the plot outline I’d originally read for this book did not match up with everything I read in the book.  I think that this edition has been edited from a previous edition.  The edition I read was a Kindle version published in 2008 by Thomas & Mercer.  My review is for this edition and no others.

The story revolves around Assistant States Attorney Julia Vacanti, a young prosecuting attorney in Miami Florida.  She’s a B trial lawyer.  She handles domestic abuse, drug charges and lesser felonies.  She seems to be a rising star in the States Attorney Office and a bane to many judges and defense attorneys.  She has caught the eye of Rick Bellido, he is THE star of the office.  He tries all the big cases and is in line for the top spot.  And it doesn’t hurt that he’s both easy to look at and they have a budding office romance.  Inexplicably, Rick gives her the chance of a lifetime.  The case that could make her career.

David Marquette, young and successful surgeon is accused of murdering his wife and children.  His influential parents have pulled together an impressive legal team and their defense is that he was suffering a psychotic break and is not guilty by reason of insanity.  David, according to family and experts, was an undiagnosed schizophrenic and his mental illness caused him to to take the lives of his family.

For Julia, this case is close, too close.  She has a secret that no one knows about.  Her brother, Andrew, took the lives of her parents 15 years earlier.  He was later diagnosed as schizophrenic and his mental illness is what caused him to lose touch with reality and take the lives of those closest to him.  Julia survived only because she was not home that night and has spent the last 15 years trying to forget.

I did have some issues with the story, mainly with Julia.  She should have recused herself from the trial, there was a true conflict of interest here and it became nearly debilitating as the trial went on.  What could have been a cathartic experience seemed to make Julia weaker and even less sure of herself.  The addition of her to the trial team didn’t really make sense either.  The only explanation that the reader can truly come to is her romantic involvement with the lead attorney.  That sadly diminishes Julia somewhat.

I wish there was less backstory and information about Julia, and more trial scenes.  Even more scenes with the accused, David Marquette.  I think more attention could have been paid to him and his story.  I enjoyed his parts in the novel more than I did Julia’s internal struggle.  You were left with many questions about David.  Is he really insane?  Is he a psychopath?  A sociopath?  Is he really schizophrenic?  I think so much was left unsaid on his side of the story that it actually took away from the book.

I put this solidly in the middle of the rating scale because it was still an enjoyable read.  I just wish Julia had been a little stronger and more attention had been paid to David.  I have heard good things about this particular author, and I think I’ll be looking into some of her other works too.

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Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller