Jenny Lawson, whose first book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened hit No. 1 on the New York Times best seller list in 2012, is used to baring the details of her personal life. In fact, she’s known for it. Lawson has made a name for herself with her blog, The Bloggess, and saturated her posts with her own special brand of humor – the type you’ll share readily with your peers but rarely with your parents. Take, for example, this anecdote: “On book tour once a woman brought me a fake nipple that she makes for people who want bigger nipples or are recovering from a mastectomy. It looks amazingly realistic and I often wear it peeking out of my shirt to see if people will tell me I have a nip slip.”
Her second book Furiously Happy is a firsthand account of living with mental illness, inflected with the wonderfully strange and frequently inappropriate dark humor you might expect from a woman who opts to put small taxidermied animals on her book covers. (Lawson’s father is a taxidermist, and she shares his love of animals — dead or alive.) Rory, the raccoon greeting readers on the front of the book, makes several cameos. Lawson enjoys staging midnight rodeos where he rides her terrified cats around the house. Rory also occasionally sneaks into Lawson’s husband’s online conferences, testing his business partners to see who’s brave enough to announce the sudden interruption of a stuffed raccoon creeping onto the corner of the screen.
Amidst Rory’s adventures, encounters with chlamydia-afflicted koalas, and being attacked by opossums, Lawson shares her reality of living with mental health issues like clinical depression, severe anxiety disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis. Sure, there are days when she’s visiting pet shops to let ferrets hang all over her like a living coat, but there are also days when she can’t get out of bed, days when she can’t answer the door, and days when she pulls her hair out in an effort to control her pain. Readers get a crash course in empathy and comfort in knowing that someone else gets it.
She brings her readers a strange but beautiful fusion of mental health awareness and understanding that, while serious in parts, will have you snorting into your coffee or laughing loudly on the subway.
We’re living in an era of bestselling books by female comedians. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler dominated with their memoirs — and rightfully so. But Lawson’s book needs no lovable, familiar face on the front cover. While she doesn’t have the advantage of fame backing her book, this comes with a major perk—she has no boundaries. Where Fey, Kaling and Poehler have acting careers to think about, Lawson can only benefit from taking it a step further. She’s unapologetic, candid, outrageous, and the book reaches new levels of hilarity because of it.