These days it seems the only books I have time for are audiobooks. In a desperate search for another audiobook at the library, I found Broken (in the best possible way) (2021) by Jenny Lawson. This is my first experience with Lawson, although she is a New York Times bestselling author and famous blogger. I found some parts of this book witty, some parts moving, and some parts a little trying. On the whole I definitely liked it, but it’s not one of my favorites.
The most meaningful parts of the book were when Lawson described her physical and mental health. Lawson struggles with severe depression and anxiety along with a host of autoimmune diseases, Rheumatoid Arthritis and many other frustrating conditions that impair her quality of life. She is very forthcoming about her ongoing struggles and the stigma she’s faced.
Lawson also discusses in detail her experiences with an experimental treatment for her depression and anxiety called transcranial magnetic stimulation. Now, I’ve had a number of interactions with people who have limited knowledge of mental illness. Most of these people see treatment and/or mental health drugs as a cure-all. They see someone struggling with mental illness and say, “Well, why don’t they take medication?”–like that would solve all their problems. I think Lawson did a really good job showing what a struggle it is to manage her mental illness. And Lawson has the financial means, supportive family, and smarts to be a good advocate for herself. Imagine if you were too sick to advocate for yourself. And even then, medicine may not help you or the side effects may be too severe. Even though the transcranial magnetic stimulation helped Lawson more than her medication had been, she was not cured and her struggle continues.
Related to Lawson’s health issues are her fights for coverage with her healthcare company, which she details in the book in a letter to her healthcare company. I imagine this chapter will be at least a little bit relatable to almost everyone reading the book.
In addition to Lawson’s more serious topics, she recounts quirky discussions/arguments she’s had with her husband. These are entertaining and often funny but were sometimes a little tiresome for me. The book also sometimes felt a little too “precious” for me. Lawson faces all kinds of hardship, but then she goes outside and snow is melting from the trees. It was so beautiful that all the suffering was worth it. Now, this is only a rough summation of part of Lawson’s work, and I appreciate that she can look for the beauty in her life. However, this writing sometimes reminded me of Glennon Doyle’s, where they are trying too hard to find a lesson or uplifting meaning and it comes off as schmaltzy. Having said that, I don’t want this review to come off as too negative. I did appreciate that Lawson was funny and honest, and I definitely learned some things.
You can find all my reviews on my blog.