"As Jenny Lawson's hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken (in the best possible way), she explores her experimental treatment of transcranial magnetic stimulation with brutal honesty. But also with brutal humor: "People do different things to distract themselves during each treatment. I embroider. It feels fitting. I'm being magnetically stabbed in the head thousands of times as I'm stabbing the embroidery myself. I don't embroider the same patterns my grandmother did. I embroider girls with octopus faces, David Bowie, a flowery bouquet with FUCK YES written in the middle. They let you do anything as long as it's 'positive.'" Jenny discusses the frustration of dealing with her insurance company in "An Open Letter to My Insurance Company," which should be an anthem for anyone who has ever had to call their insurance company to try and get a claim covered. On the lighter side, she tackles such timelessly debated questions as "How do dogs know they have penises?" We see how her vacuum cleaner almost set her house on fire, how she was attacked by three bears, business ideas she wants to pitch to Shark Tank, and why she can never go back to the post office. Of course, Jenny's long-suffering husband Victor-the Ricky to Jenny's Lucille Ball-is present throughout. A treat for Jenny Lawson's already existing fans, and destined to convert new ones, Broken is a beacon of hope and a wellspring of laughter"--
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As with her previous book Lawson alternates between humor and seriousness, whether dealing with issues with
Having previously read Lawson’s other two books, I knew what type of book I was going to read and upon completion can say that it is as excellent as them. Lawson knows how to mix humor and serious issues, sometimes in the same essay and sometimes in separate ones, which means that no matter the material covered from reflections on mental health to chronicling medical treatments to her everyday misadventures at home or in the neighborhood or in town everything is written fresh and new from anything previously published. And frankly after the last year we all have had, not only the humorous essays are welcomed but also the encouragement for when we know we feel something wrong with us.
Broken (in the best possible way) shows the unique writing style of Jenny Lawson that has made a favorite of millions of reads on the Internet and on the page. This book can either be an introduction to Lawson for a first-time reader or a reacquaintance to a longtime fan of her books.
Fans of amazing, absurd stories. Fans of sincerity and genuine kindness.
In a nutshell:
The Bloggess returns with her third (I think) collection of essays, which run from tears streaming down your face funny to deeply moving.
So much, but audio book, so I didn’t get a chance
Why I chose it:
I’ve read her previous books, and I love listening to her read her own work. She has a fantastic delivery style.
I utterly adore reading what author Lawson has to say. She has experienced life in such a different way than I have - and yet I always feel like I can relate to what she’s saying. I read her first book as an audio book, but her second as a standard book. For this one I’ve gone back to reading her via the audio book, because it’s just so damned delightful. Hearing someone with her talent read her own stories brings an additional level of humor, joy, and emotion.
In terms of funny stories, for some reason the chapter on the six times she lost her shoes while wearing them really stands out. It’s absurd and hilarious and something that doesn’t make sense when you hear the title, but by the end, it’s like ‘of course.’
The most memorable essay for me is the letter she wrote to her health insurance about their repeated denial of coverage for the medicines that are literally keeping her alive. It is heart-wrenching and infuriating and not at all unique, given the utterly broken for-profit health insurance system in the US. Hearing her read out all the hoops she is required to jump through, while ill, to get the treatment she needs covered by her insurance (and not always being successful at that). I feel like it should be read at every Congressional hearing where universal health care is debated.
This is an extremely wholesome book that also happens to use the word motherfucker repeatedly throughout. That’s how gifted a writer Lawson is.
Recommend to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Recommend to a Friend
Jenny Lawson's newest book is an emotional roller coaster, although I think that can be said about most of her writing. There is, as usual for her, a lot of 'laugh so hard my eyes water'
There is one chapter called 'Rainbow Fire' and honestly I bawled, being reminded that even in the lowest points there can be magical moments that maybe you wouldn't even experience if you weren't in that low point... It's something to hold onto when my own depression gets bad. Also teared up during the chapter about her fights with the insurance company that apparently didn't think the medication that kept her away from suicide was 'essential' (I really hate that's an all-too-common fight for people in the United States...).
And then there are the hilarious chapters like the one that ponders 'how do dogs know they have penises?' and the ridiculously-inappropriate Shark Tank business pitch ideas. If you aren't already familiar with Jenny's unique brand of humor some of it might seem pretty over the top, but that's kind of just who she is.
I have a hardcover copy as well as the audiobook, and I must say the audiobook adds *so* much to the experience simply by hearing the way she reads the passages.
Her humor is a salve and a boon for all of us crazy messes... even more so for those that have trouble expressing their experiences/pain/neurosis and fragile bits. BUT in the chapters where she is guffaw inducing, bring tears to your eyes, Keegle busting, capital 'F' Funny... I was thankful that I padded up because the polite (knee-jerk) expression Laughing Out Loud was more like Braying (ladylike) Into The Night WHICH makes for a very unpopular reading choice (in my sleep deprived, grouchy husband's bleary eyes) in the wee hours at my house... though I regret nothing!
Jenny Lawson is the Queen of awkward encounters and a brilliant tactician, navigating a surprising amount of mortifying "Holy *bleep*, Why Me?" moments! She brings the power of laughter in the face of weird Reality and can easily boast the ability to make any situation weirder as her Super Power.
Mrs. Lawson's writing is often Self-Deprecating BUT she manages to do this in an admirably healthy, transcendent way. I swear that everyone needs this book in their lives, not only fellow sufferers but those that need a helping hand understanding/coping with other people's insanity as well. I'm a firm believer that this book can help all sorts of people traverse our murky emotional waters. Could you really ask for more? I guess you could physically ask so but you'll definitely get redirected right back here it's that good.
Broken by Jenny Lawson celebrates the Weird, the Awkward, the Misunderstood and the Broken. Come and be reminded that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! We are ALL messed up in our own messed up ways and we ALL deserve to be accepted and loved, sharp edged pieces and all! Speaking of loving acceptance, it makes me happy knowing that Jenny has Victor (her devoted, oft times patient, husband). I LOVED his contributions to the book, whether they were done so wittingly or not I'm not sure but it doesn't matter, his interjections play off her Crazy perfectly... they have that healthy Odd Couple balance going for them. Everyone needs a Victor in their life! Mine happens to be a grouchy, sleep deprived (mainly due to my nighttime reading choices) Eric who often grumbles whenever I share a (questionably) ingenious thought at 3:00 a.m. BUT he's my Victor and I'm lucky to have him.
I highly recommend you hurry up and go get this book, you don't fully know it yet but you NEED this in your life!! You'll thank me later.
*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***
I love a good laugh. It can fix many things and let’s face it, we haven’t been laughing too much this past year. If you want to use that muscle again, give this book a try.
The Rest of It:
I knew of Jenny Lawson, AKA “The Bloggess” from my early blogging days but I had never
Then, I was offered a review copy of Broken (In the Best Possible Way) and my memory of her came flooding back to me. Wait a second. She writes about mental illness and depression? After sneaking a few pages in while perusing the copy that was just sent to me, I immediately knew I would read it and I would probably enjoy it a lot. True and true.
Broken is a memoir told through stories. True stories of her struggle with mental illness, depression, and even her debilitating auto-immune disorder which she suffered greatly from until she found the right medication.
Lawson says out loud, what we only think internally.
She writes about many things, mostly awkward encounters with others including neighbors, postal employees, doctors, dentists, you name it. She talks about losing her shoes while wearing them. Yes, literally stepping out of a shoe only to leave it behind somewhere. She talks about using a Shop-Vac to clean up pet food only to realize that in doing so, she has also managed to suck up raw poop sewage which of course is gross. One story after another and somehow this insecure, eccentric woman slowly becomes the friend you never had. As “out there” as some of this content is, none of it is new or odd to me. I’ve had many conversations with friends about some of the things she talks about and sometimes, even with just myself. Yes, weird.
In the section titled Awkwarding Brings Us Together, I had to stop reading because I was crying so hard from laughing. In this section, she shares Tweets that people shared with her in their attempt to one-up her in awkwardness.
Then, she includes a letter to her insurance company. Here, she gets serious. Insurance companies can deny you the one medication that you need to stay alive or they can give it to you at extreme cost. Having battled depressing most of her life, these appeals are the norm and yet in including this in the book, she is speaking to everyone who has ever had to fight for their life. It’s a little “go team!” moment if you ask me.
Broken may not be for everyone. Lawson is very blunt and her self-deprecating humor might get on your nerves a little if you aren’t used to that type of humor. She speaks of body parts quite frankly and there is a lot of language. She is not pretending to be anyone in what she writes. This feels 100% authentic to me so her style grew on me. If you need something different and you want to laugh, then this is the book for you. And of course, if you suffer from depression, you may find some comfort in what she shares here as well.
Have you read her before?
For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter.
Jenny is funny. She's also super critical of herself and totally gets when
The laugh-out-loud part (for me) were her "improvements" on inspirational truisms, her Twitter thread of embarrassing moments, and her text comment arguments with her editors. And, as usual, there are also plenty of crazy wildlife and/or pet stories.
I really just wanted the funny stories, like the chapter regarding six different times she’s lost one of her shoes. The chapter with back-and-forth correspondence with her editors is clever and hilarious. Her style is self-deprecating in the most amusing way, and she always makes me feel that it’s okay not to be perfect, to be unsure of myself, or suffer from low self-esteem, that feeling that way is normal and most likely afflicts just about everyone.
From other reviews I’ve read, her readers fall into two camps: the first group, who want to read about her struggles with debilitating depression and how she copes, and the second group, who want to be entertained by a gifted humorist with a penchant for getting into embarrassing scrapes. This book tries to be both, and because of that, she can’t please everyone all of the time.
I’m still really glad Jenny Lawson is on this planet and is able to unabashedly inspire all of us fellow screw-ups, the socially maladroit, and the incurable self-doubters.
Many thanks to LibraryThing for the copy in exchange for my review.
“Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.”
“I live with two extroverts, which is helpful in that they keep me from becoming a complete hermit but also terrible because they have no concept of the utter emotional and physical exhaustion that comes from living in a world that is too peoply.”
Once again, she had me laughing so hard my cheeks hurt at some of her stories, especially when her husband Victor is involved. Although, the tables were turned in one of them – she was the one behaving sensibly and he was the irrational animal lover. It was fun to see that side of him.
Even if you haven’t heard of Jenny, you will love this book. And if you suffer from chronic or mental illness, Jenny will make you feel like you are not alone. Highly, highly recommended.
I do want to sound a note of caution that if you suffer from any mental health issues and are easily triggered by talk on this subject (or on the subject of suicide) then you might want to sip Jenny's book instead of gulping it down. (No idea why I turned this into a drinking metaphor.) But I do think it is worth your time because it is always so comforting to read about someone else fighting the same demons as yourself. (And you don't want to miss out on the laugh-out-loud moments that this book is saturated with because they are comedy gold.) Another hole-in-one homerun through the goal posts.
I will say, I think I didn't love this quite as much as her previous two books, maybe because I was in less of the right mood for it, or maybe because she's already used up most of her very best stories. But that is a very high bar, anyway, and still leaves a great deal of room for me to like this one a lot. Which I did. And I suspect anyone else who enjoyed those, or who reads her blog, will like it too.
The biggest differences from her previous books (if you have read
I found the chapter on TMS interesting and I am interested in getting my anxiety under control, but not able to tackle that until I am back in my apartment and move. Being in limboland is increasing my anxiety dramatically.
To me the best chapter in this book for me is Awkwarding Brings Us together. I laughed and cried so hard, reading the embarrasing things that have happenned to other people. Very similiar things have happenned in my life. Like when I called China and sang the Happy Birthday song to him, forgetting that it was Monday and a whole table of people laughed. My face turned red when I realized that he was at a meeting at work.
I hope that you read this book if you need reassurance that you are not the only one in the world suffering from the ugly beasts of anxiety and depression and more.
But back to the store – as a group of readers, we were given the greatest treat – multiple advance copies of Broken. We passed them around and after I promised the staff members who didn’t already know Jenny that the book would ultimately be hopeful, we had a mini store book club of sorts which was the winter balm it turned out we all needed.
Jenny doesn’t mention the pandemic. At all. And it is amazing how refreshing that fact in and of itself is. I’ve followed her blog for quite a few years since I first read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened three years ago and so a few of the stories in Broken were familiar, though the essays pieces are original to the book. While I have favorite moments from the book as a whole, it is similar to Jenny’s other works in that the overarching theme is:
It’s okay you’re not okay, but it will get better – I promise.
(THIS ISN’T A DIRECT QUOTE BUT I WANTED TO EMPHASIZE IT.)
There are plenty of hysterical conversations between Jenny and her husband, Victor, many of which make me laugh so hard I cry because I can overwhelming relate (my husband concurs that he can also overwhelmingly relate to Victor’s side of things). There are stories of Jenny’s dog, Dorothy Barker, and Haley, her daughter and now full grown teenager, features prominently as well. There are more taxidermized animals in strange clothes and more stories of Jenny’s unconventional childhood.
It is a treat for old fans and new alike, and is, dare I say, the perfect balm for those who are really struggling with the ongoing pandemic’s affect on their mental health.
It's the most wonderful brain vacation to fall into her books for a couple of days and be in that land of weird and happy.
This is exactly what I needed to read right now, and I think I will be revisiting this for years to come.