Review of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, by Jenny Lawson

I borrowed the audio version of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson from the library.

Description from 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.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.

Review:
I’ve loosely followed Jenny Lawson online for the last couple of years, generally since Beyonce the chicken went viral. So, I knew who she was going in. But honestly I only picked the book up because my book club chose it for the read this month. I opted for the audio version because I didn’t know that I would really feel invested in it otherwise. I don’t know if that would have been true or not, but I’m awful glad I got the audio. I think I got a lot more enjoyment out of hearing her tell her stories than I would have from reading them. Don’t get me wrong, she has a really recognizable voice, even when writing, but I’m glad I made the choice I did. I can always look at the pictures later. Surely someone will bring the actual book to our meeting next month.

I very much like the way Lawson set herself and her husband Viktor up as a double act or, what the Japanese would call Manzai. He’s the straight man, all reasonable and level headed and she’s the silly one, the funny (wo)man. Of course, it’s all from her perspective and a lot of her humor is at the expense of her own mental health, but it is still funny and endearing, as the affection for him (and eventually her daughter) definitely comes across.

In the beginning I was a little put off as the entries felt random. They were funny, but not much more. But eventually Lawson started pulling themes and life advice from the stories, which I thought went a long way toward making it feel less erratic. At times, the humor felt a bit contrived, like someone desperately seeking attention. But overall I enjoyed it.

All in all, good job book club. I wouldn’t have chosen it on my own, but I enjoyed it all the same.

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