Wednesday, May 15, 2013


[Note: This review was originally published on July 10, 2012, on]

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Title: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

Author: Jenny Lawson




  Amy Einhorn Books

Landed in my hands: via self-purchase

Summary (from inside the jacket flap)

When I tell people that my father is kind of a total lunatic, they laugh and nod knowingly. They assure me that theirs is too, and that he’s just a “typical father.”

And they’re probably right, if the typical father runs a full-time taxidermy business out of the house, and shows up at the local bar with a miniature donkey and a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator, and thinks other people are weird for making such a big deal out of it. If the typical father says things like “Happy birthday! Here’s a bathtub of raccoons!” or “We’ll have to take your car. Mine has too much blood in it,” then yeah, he’s *totally* normal. Still, I don’t remember any of the kids from Charles in Charge feeling around the deep freeze for the Popsicles and instead pulling out an enormous frozen rattlesnake that Charles had thrown in while it was still alive. Maybe I missed that episode. We didn’t watch a lot of TV.

That’s why whenever people try to tell me how their “insane father” would sometimes fall asleep on the toilet, or occasionally catch the house on fire, I put my finger to their lips and whisper, “Hush, little rabbit. Let me give you perspective.”

-- from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father 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 humour 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 help her 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 ever 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.


Are you familiar with The Bloggess?

Yes? No?

I’ve been a follower of Jenny’s for a while now — I found her back when she had her own ill-advised advice column, Ask The Bloggess, that has since been discontinued — and she’s always a breath of fresh air. A hysterical, humanizing, humble breath of fresh air.


Lawson views the world through a filter that is all her own. And she embraces life, her struggles, her humour, and shares it in such a way that you can’t help but feel the perspective radiating from her words. She has the uncanny ability to summarize events with a combination of irrational paranoia, pop culture references, off-colour quirkiness, but most of all, heart.

One thing I found a touch disappointing with Lawson’s book was that I had expected her to delve more into her struggles with anxiety and depression. Having followed her blog, witnessing her downs and celebrating her ups, I was hoping to have a further peak into that aspect of her life.

And if you’re familiar with her blog, you may notice some repetition (and Jenny’s signature entertaining rambling) though I’m pleased to see it — some of my favourite Jenny-isms are fleshed out more fully in this book, along with classic back and forth conversations between herself and her husband.

What at first seems to be a rather scattered rambling through the logical progression of her life, the chapters are interspersed with conversations and anecdotes. I won’t lie, I was watching for growth, for that progression, for that epiphany, and I was pleased to see it appear. Even more so to see it show up with Jenny’s natural circularity — a quirky-yet-natural propensity to appear as if she’s lost direction, only to discover that she was narrowing in on a point all along.

This circularity occurs in her blog posts, in her chapters, and it ties the entire book together overall; into a neat package that reflects her unique spirit, and the wonder of self-acceptance.

If you're unfamiliar with Jenny, check out the classic Bloggess post about Beyonce the giant metal chicken (seriously, Beyoncé has a following on Facebook, it's that popular.) It'll give you an idea of what the book entails, and hopefully a laugh, too. Enjoy!

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