Reviewed by Scott Uecker
Furiously Happy, A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson, presents situations from the author’s life in humorous short personal essays detailing her experience with mental illness. Each chapter is a different hilarious episode. While the book is adult oriented and she is very sarcastic and eccentric, her personality gives the book a certain charm. I believe anyone who reads Furiously Happy, A Funny Book About Horrible Things will come away a better person for the experience.
Jenny Lawson also writes for her blog www.TheBloggess.com and previously penned the highly acclaimed book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir.
When I first volunteered for this assignment I was thrilled to write the review. However, after reading the preface and first twelve pages I was stunned and put the book down for weeks. I worried that people would not take mental illness seriously after reading the book. It was funny, but I did not realize how good it was until I read the whole thing. I am glad I had the assignment to make me pick up the book again and read. It brought out hopes and fears and made me contemplate my own experience with mental illness in a unique way.
As an individual who has personal experience with mental illness, I thought I would know what she was going through, but she even opened my eyes. If not to her strength for opening up about her illness, but for the courage and strength it takes to make fun of it. Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter makes the serious subject more palatable and hopefully will get a dialog going about the subject of mental illness among people who have not yet been touched by it.
The book got people talking about mental illness when otherwise the subject could have been swept under the rug and forgotten about by some. I hope people learn from the book that it is a serious subject, but that it is also OK to take a light-hearted look at it. At the same time however, I am hoping that there is one person in each conversation that is close enough to the subject to point people in the right direction, so as to let them realize that mental illness is not all laughter and needs to be addressed in a serious manner.
Humor is a great way to cut the realism of mental illness. The book brought up the subject of mental illness in a funny way, but it also had a serious side, which I was glad to see. The appendix in the middle of the book was perfect for explaining something I have not been able to explain to my family for years. Why do you do what you do? The answer is simple, I do not know why, I just do it. It is the way I am wired. In the book she explains this better with a twist of humor added.
I also thought the ending chapters of the book were a little more serious, but had great insight into family and an introspective look at oneself.I really found myself relating to some of these chapters. I also believe you don’t need to have a mental illness to relate to parts of the chapters in the book.
As a consumer, if you choose to read the book, read the whole book as it is an introspective into oneself and the author presents it in an easy to read way.
Hopefully, people will laugh at the book (and how it is presented) but take mental illness seriously. (Seriously Funny that is.)