Thursday, January 10, 2019

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Read by Jenny Lawson
Published September 2015 by Flatiron Books
Source: audiobook from my local library

Publisher's Summary:
In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously f*#ked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'"

My Thoughts:
As with her debut book (Let's Pretend This Never Happened), Furiously Happy is an impressive blend of hysterical humor and painful reality. Sure, some of the humor is of the "so stupid and lame it's funny" sort. On the other hand, in the "you can't make this shit up" vein, some of it is hilarious. Laughing-out-loud-in-your-car-while-people-stopped-at-the-red-light-next-to-you-think-you're-crazy kind of hilarious. Except when it's not funny at all, but incredibly sad. It's uneven, to be sure; but Lawson seems to want readers to understand that life is uneven and we have to make the most of what we have been given. She also wants people to stop stigmatizing mental illness and to talk about it.

Lawson is a woman who has waged a lifelong battle with a number of mental illnesses. She's also a woman who has learned how to not only survive but to thrive. She has chosen to live life furiously happy when she is not in the depths of a depressive episode, to make the most of the life she has. It can lead to some pretty hilarious situations. Like the time her friend convinced her to go to Australia and they visited koalas, Lawson in a full koala costume.
"Be bizarre. Be weird. Be proud of the uniquely beautiful way that you are broken. 
Be furiously happy."
As funny as this book is, in the end I came away feeling like I'd just been through therapy with a therapist who 100% understands what it's like to live with mental illness and would like me to understand that I am not alone and that there is always joy to be found in life.  Sometimes you just have to survive by knowing that you will survive. And sometimes you have to survive by living furiously happy.

*I checked out this book from my library. There is so much in it that I want to share that I will likely buy at least one copy. But not for my mom, because she will not be fan of the language. You've also been warned.

**I highly recommend the audiobook. This is the kind of book best read by the person who has lived this life. It also makes the chapter about recording the audiobook sort of meta. AND there is some bonus material for audiobook "readers."


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