In Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, Jenny Lawson uses “furiously happy” as a weapon to counter mental illness, and intends to “destroy the goddamn universe with my irrational joy and I will spew forth pictures of clumsy kittens and baby puppies adopted by raccoons and MOTHERFUCKING NEWBORN LLAMAS DIPPED IN GLITTER AND THE BLOOD OF SEXY VAMPIRES.” This is my kind of gal, someone who doesn’t let depression stop her from embracing her quirkiness and finding humour in the world around her.
Some chapters talk specifically about mental illness, but the majority are funny anecdotes. The book is jam-packed with all kinds of critters, ranging from living to taxidermied to costumes. This includes Rory, the scary as hell taxidermied raccoon on the front cover. There are also random rants, e.g. about female clothes not having pockets, and a pocketbook being neither pocket nor book. When she talked about being bewildered by a Japanese computerized toilet, I wanted to shout me too soul-sister!
She challenges some of the stigma around mental illness and its treatment. She sarcastically observed that if someone’s cancer returned, “it’s probably just a reaction to too much gluten or not praying correctly. Right?” And then there was the gem about dealing with medication side effects “which can include ‘feeling excessively stabby’ when coupled with some asshole telling you that ‘your medication not working is just proof you don’t really need medication at all.'”
You know those silent moments that crop up every so often when you’re seeing your therapist? Jenny knows how to fills those awkward silences with panache, with such observations as: “Is it normal to regret not making a sex tape when you were younger and your boobs still pointed vaguely at the ceiling when you were on your back? Because I feel like no one ever talks about that.”
She points out that seemingly having it all doesn’t mean not being depressed or anxious. She admitted that “I only have a few days a month where I actually feel like I was good at life… The other days I feel like I’m barely accomplishing the minimum or that I’m a loser.”
I don’t usually include so many quotes in reviews, but Jenny’s words are far funnier than mine. This book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and it’s a delightfully sneaky way of attacking stigma without being about mental health. You’ll read more about taxidermy than you could have ever imagined; heck, you might even be tempted to get your very own taxidermied armadillo purse (yup, that’s a thing, Google it).
You can find Jenny on her blog The Bloggess.
Furiously Happy is available on Amazon.
You can read my other book reviews here.
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