I absolutely fell in love with Jenny Lawson’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir. Detailing her unconventional childhood out in the West Texas boonies, Lawson seemed to be the obvious heir to David Sedaris. While her book tackled serious issues like her difficulty being “normal” and her miscarriage, it seemed like she was more interested in being funny than insightful.
Hew newest book, Furiously Happy flips that ratio. It’s one part funny, three parts an uncomfortable discussion of mental issues. It’s full of the weird dark humor you might expect from someone whose book cover is a weirdly cheerful taxidermied raccoon named Rory (Lawson also uses Rory to sneak into her husband’s video conferences to test which of his colleagues are cool). She shares her reality of living with clinical depression, severe anxiety and rheumatoid arthritis and how she just can’t get out of bed some days. It’s occasionally a eureka moment-that this cool, funny lady that I admire gets it.
Furiously Happy is a good book, but it just doesn’t compare to Lawson’s first. That makes sense; Lawson had a lifetime of material to pick from for her first book, and now she has to use what’s left. Her first book also felt more like an actual book. This one feels like a pile of blog posting, haphazardly organized in some kind of order. Her jokes don’t always land here, and when they do, they elicit grins or chuckles, but not the embarrassing choking-on-my-drink-in-public guffaws the last one gifted me.
I’m not saying Furiously Happy is a bad book, but it is a disappointing one. I kept waiting for it go get funnier. Then I felt guilty for whining that her frank description of mental illness wasn’t funny enough-dance, monkey, dance! Still, if you’re a fan of Lawson’s work, it’s worth picking up. Even her so-so work is better than a lot of other stuff out there.
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