Review: Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy is Jenny Lawson’s second non-coloring-book. As with her previous work, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, its blog origins are clear in its episodic structure and topical range.  I intend that as a compliment.  Her blog is very popular for many good reasons.

The reasons I find most compelling are Lawson’s charming and effective writing style and bravery in deploying it to share her experiences with mental illness.  Her style is crisp and filled with surprising turns of phrase.  When she is describing a daffy situation or a comical argument, the style carries the reader along as a sprightly passenger – sort of a less repetitive trip through It’s A Small World. When the waters get deeper, her tone keeps readers hopeful and engaged.

And the waters do get deep.  Lawson is bold and unflinching in describing her illness. Mental illness has a stigma.  Even someone who appears to have not only a normal but an extraordinary life, as Lawson does, bears the brunt of that.  She has a powerful capacity to both make the tribulations of her illness clear to those who know the problems in the abstract and to those who have never heard the clinical terms.  Her courage in truth-telling is key to pulling that off.

The work is all personal, and the tone is correspondingly manic.  While I recognize that as an aspect of sharing her illness by sharing her point of view, it does mean I had to step away from the book a few times and cool off.

Overall, strongly recommended.

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