I ended up re-reading this book yesterday because I needed something to make me laugh. I have always gotten a kick out of Jen Lancaster’s older memoirs and even though I know them by heart, I still laugh each time. I think my main take away at reading this again after several years of reading her latest memoirs is that her older memoirs were more honest and up front about her life and family. Nowadays it feels like she always keeps things back. And she mentioned in one of her memoirs she was estranged from her family. And now it seems she is only estranged from her brother (who I loathed in this book and the others where he makes an appearance).
Jen Lancaster in her first memoir details how she and her now husband (then boyfriend and fiancee) were living the high life in Chicago, and then they were not. Due to the economy and dot.coms being on the upswing prior to 9/11 it seemed like the young and up and comers were making money hand over fist. And then Jen is fired due (according to her) her boss wanting to make sure that her family member got a job that Jen was already doing quite competently. From there we go from Jen being angry and then depressed when it becomes readily apparent she is not able to find a job that matches her skill level. When her boyfriend Fletch loses his job as well the two of them have to dig deep and move elsewhere while their finances keep spiraling out of control.
I liked seeing Jen go from being in her own words spoiled and realizing that the choices she made in life (spend thousands and thousands of dollars on stuff instead of saving it all) were partially to blame for the situation that she ended up at. Also I think this book really showcases how hard it is sometimes to trust people you work with cause they will stab you in the back to get ahead. I always wonder what happened with Jen and her co-worker that she was close to who she was trying to talk out of having an affair with some idiot they worked with. She like many of the characters in this book disappear never to be heard from again.
Ultimately Jen and Fletch make it out okay though they had a hard time in their lives.
I will say that since I read the other memoirs you can definitely see that Jen’s writing and stories have gotten better over time. I found her a bit hard to take at times while re-reading this. And God knows I tend to not have a lot of sympathy with formerly upper middle class people who don’t realize that saving their money is a good thing. But I feel for Jen since it was definitely a hard thing for her to swallow.
Jen’s family is a bit much to deal with in book #1. I didn’t care for her brother who seemed nasty and a piece of work. Her mother also seemed overly dramatic. We only get bits and pieces about her father though. And we learn enough about Fletch’s family to understand why they are not part of their lives. When Jen delves into things like this, it really is when the book gets better. I really didn’t get her obsession with her dogs, (I have a cat) and thought that some of that could have been cut. And maybe I am a jerk, but reading this years later, I don’t understand why they kept two dogs that I am sure cost a lot for them to pay for when they were days away from being evicted from their apartment. Heck, it sounds like Jen gave her one dog to her parents before, so I am puzzled why that wasn’t a solution here (just having the two days stay with her parents til they were back on their feet).