Bestselling author Jenny Lawson’s writing often elicits a range of emotional responses, from gasp-laughs to sympathetic murmurs to the particular type of groan that accompanies massive secondhand embarrassment.
Lawson, aka the Bloggess, believes “we are so much less alone if we learn to wear our imperfections proudly.” Her brand of sharing has created a community endlessly drawn to her hilarious confessions of foibles and fears; conversations with her loving yet exasperated husband, Victor; and chronicles of her experiences with mental and physical illness.
Broken (in the best possible way), Lawson’s fourth book, is a loop-de-loop of an emotional roller coaster that swoops from poetic to profane, madcap to moving and back again. She’s in fine form in this collection of essays, which offers support, humor and her take on society’s ills and wonders.
Years of frustration and righteous rage are channeled into the trenchant essay “An Open Letter to My Health Insurance Company,” in which Lawson shares what it’s like to rely on medication controlled by an impenetrable and uncaring health care system. She also confides that rheumatoid arthritis, which causes her feet to swell and then deflate, has resulted in “Six Times I’ve Lost My Shoes While Wearing Them.” Her poignant account of the times a shoe has taken “a ride in an elevator without me” is a thing of hilarious beauty. So, too, are a compilation of tweets about everyday mortification called “Awkwarding Brings Us Together,” as well as stories about the book editing process, an ill-fated kayaking trip and the time a (live) squirrel fell on her head.
Lawson’s more serious essays, especially her musings on her spotty memory and her family’s history of dementia, are sad and affecting. She writes with love and admiration about her grandmother, who “goes missing sometimes, lost in her own mind,” and shares her conviction that treatment for mental illness is getting slowly but surely better with every generation. To wit, her diary of transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment for depression is harrowing, edifying but also hopeful. After all, she writes, “Nothing lasts forever. The good and the bad.”