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 fucked-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.'”
Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?
What this book is not:
- A story that’s depressing and tries to put you inside the head of someone who suffers from mental illness
- A self-help style book that tells you “it worked for me, so it should work for you”
What this book is:
- An honest and poignant look at what it’s like to live with mental illness
- A story about embracing your weirdness and craziness and living life on your own terms
And yes, it really is as funny as the blurb says. At least, I found it hilariously, laugh out loud funny, and I can’t remember the last time I ever laughed more than twice while reading. Granted, I do have a weird sense of humour, but I think Jenny’s strange observations of life and her willingness to laugh at herself (though never in a self-deprecating way) will get most people laughing. And that’s the point. If laughter truly is the best medicine, then this book is a giant dose.
Furiously Happy is all about realizing that you have to live your life the way you need to, without worrying about what other people will think. It’s about realizing that everyone is weird in their own way and that that’s ok. It’s also about learning to take life less seriously, to treat it as an experience and have fun, despite whatever obstacles come your way. Jenny addresses the stigma surrounding mental illness head on, and talks openly and unashamedly about her struggles with depression and anxiety, as well as the many weird and wonderful things she’s done. Her bravery is astounding and this book is an excellent way to open discussion on, and start thinking about, a whole array of important topics.
Not a book in the conventional sense, Furiously Happy is a collection of essays (in a very loose sense), stories and conversations in a random order. On their own, some are hilarious and some touching, but together, provide a glimpse into Jenny’s life and her philosophy. I practically read it in one sitting. Partly because at times it really resonated with me and partly because I couldn’t stop laughing and was enjoying it a ton. So whichever way it goes for you, both are good.