My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. Not as much as I love the author’s blog, but close. What comes through both places is how wacky the author is, but also how many challenges (internal and external) she has to face.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. 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.
Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to 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.
In talking to my book club about the book, I suspect that already knowing Jenny through her blog really helped me at the beginning of the book. I came in already invested in Jenny’s life, and I had some idea where this collection of odd anecdotes were taking me. I think I would have enjoyed them even if I didn’t, but I’ll never know for sure.
It really is when Jenny hits adulthood that the book hits its stride. I’d have to say that starts with the chapter on drugs. I have no personal experience to compare it to, but I felt like I was experiencing her very own reality.
From there, it was a bumpy but engrossing ride. I really liked the balance between the funny stories and those that showed the other dimensions of her character, the echos of the past she had left behind in the future she built for herself. I like stories like her telling how she and her HR coworkers dealt with men who e-mail photos of a certain part of their anatomy. I liked the look at how a person can keep going, even after completely breaking.
If swearing bothers you, avoid this book. If you aren’t sure about the humor, read a couple of her blog posts (http://thebloggess.com/). If they don’t appeal to you, give this book a miss. If they have you rolling with laughter, rush out to pick it up.
Narrator: Jenny Lawson narrates the book herself, and it is hard to imagine it any other way. She has an interesting voice, and brings her own personality to the reading. She does have a very definite accent (Southern/Texan), and some interesting pronunciations, but for me, that just added to the charm.
Production: With the author as the narrator, all things are possible. She makes minor changes (referring to “this audiobook” rather than “this book”, and works footnotes into her reading), she sings the chapter titles, and generally makes it into an almost conversational experience. The downside is that you don’t get the photos, the proof that these things really did happen. Luckily, the author has loaded them on-line.
Print vs. Audio? I loved Let’s Pretend This Never Happened in audio, and would strongly recommend this format for this book.
Book Club Notes
I’m the one that suggested this book for our group to discuss, even though I wasn’t sure everyone would enjoy it. Still, I was expecting that most people would, and was quite surprised when pretty much no one had finished the book (although there were some reasons involving timing of the meeting that impacted that), and that pretty much everyone else had trouble with the first section of the reading, although several people found it improved for them once they got past the author’s childhood.
Out of the 5 of us at the meeting, one had barely started, two were less than halfway through, one was close to finishing, and I’d finished and even re-listened to parts of it. This made discussion difficult, particularly since I think that the childhood sections are most interesting in how they influence her as an adult, and we simply didn’t have enough of us that had reached that point.
I still think this could be a good book club selection, but I can’t give any evidence to support that based on our meeting.