Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

Jenny Lawson is anxious, slightly dysfunctional, and, at times, tactless. She, however, is well aware of these characteristics. Her memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, begins with a discussion of how stories are often exaggerated upon retelling, and that resounds in the reader’s mind as Lawson’s life is laid out in all its hilarity.

Lawson’s memoir moves from her childhood in rural Texas and continues to delve into her life as a wife, mother, and Internet blogger. Her stories include how she dealt with the chaos of everything from having a father with a wild animal obsession to events that showcase her own personal eccentricities.

One focus of the memoir deals with the relationship Lawson forms with her husband, Victor, and accentuates the concept that marriage is indelibly difficult but worth the trouble. A good example of Lawson’s narrative hilarity describes her anxiety with public situations. She describes a specific evening with Victor at a Halloween party for his company. After arriving at the party, Lawson begins to worry that she will embarrass her husband by telling an inappropriately strange story to cover up her anxiety. She dives right into a story that is exactly what she fears. She proclaims to the group, “One time I got stabbed in the face by a serial killer.” Fortunately, her cat had simply scratched her in her sleep. It is that kind of exaggerated dysfunction that makes Lawson hilarious.

Lawson’s narrative is very active and imaginative. She addresses the reader, and, occasionally, her editor as she pokes fun at her own exaggerations. The downside, however, is that some of her stories ramble to a point that halts the natural flow of her humor. Though funny, and at times touching the breaks in narrative flow and her graphic, crass, and conversational style will limit who enjoys it. Due to these characteristics, many people won’t connect to Lawson’s overall lesson, which is to be comfortable with oneself and one’s past.

Overall, I found Let’s Pretend This Never Happened entertaining. Lawson’s active narrative style captured my attention even when the stories led into feminine perspectives on topics like childbirth and female physiology. She portrays many everyday situations (e.g. group conversations, home maintenance) in such a ridiculous manner that it’s hard not to stop and think “yea, I’ve been there.” Her stories might be exaggerated, but I think she connects to the fact that sometimes we are all a little ridiculous.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.