Jenny Lawson is a blogger turned memoir writer, who is known for stories about her quirky Texan family, her random collections (taxidermied raccoons and creepy dolls, anyone?), her exposition of her most embarrassing moments, and most notably writing honestly about her struggle with mental illness. Broken (in the best possible way) is her third memoir and her fourth book.
Broken is everything that Lawson fans expect. In her somewhat stream of consciousness writing style, Lawson recounts the time the six times she lost her shoes while wearing them and the time she interrupted her husband Victor’s conference call with, “So I did what you told me to and returned that bag of stolen drugs and in exchange I got a big bag of dicks and that’s why I can never go back to the post office again and all of this is your fault” because as Jenny writes, “the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” Although, she sometimes uses these things in her defense to keep herself and other people apart; Jenny maintains a list of awkward things she has said to strangers to discourage her husband from insisting that she attend his work events.
It’s not all laughs. In “An Open Letter to My Health Insurance,” she carefully outlines the ways that insurance companies act as a barrier to good care, while also acknowledging that people with less privilege than her experience far worse; in “We Are Who We Are Until We Aren’t Anymore,” she discusses her family history of mental illness and dementia; in “The Things We Do to Quiet the Monsters,” she chronicles her experience with an experimental depression treatment; and in one spot of the book, she ponders what the dynamic of her marriage would be if her depression went fully into remission and she no longer had to rely on Victor quite so much.
Reading a Jenny Lawson book is like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Sometimes, you are laughing so hard that tears are rolling down your cheeks. (Seriously, don’t read this in public because there will be uncontrollable giggling.) At other times, it is so honest and vulnerable that you feel honored to be the recipient of her confessions. Like life, Broken is funny, beautiful, perfect, and sad all at once. While Broken, as well as all of Lawson’s other books, are must reads for anyone suffering from depression and anxiety, the audience extends far beyond the mental illness crowd. This is a great book for anyone who wants to read something both funny and thoughtful.