Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson

Posted 7 March, 2013 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 27 Comments


Title: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
Author: Jenny Lawson
Published: 2012 Pages: 336
Genre: Memoir
Rating 4/5

In Short: The Bloggess Jenny Lawson shares her stories that at one time she might have pretended never happened but now realizes these are the stories that have shaped her into who she is.
Why I Read: In part because of the BlogHer Bookclub and in part because I was a teeny tiny bit curious what all the hype was about.
Thoughts in General: Confession – I don’t read The Bloggess’s website. I’ve been forwarded a few of her posts in the past and when Google Reader used to allow sharing (bring it back!!!) I read a few then. I thought they were funny but mostly too long to read all the way through. So when the book came out I didn’t jump on the bandwagon and when she showed up at my local bookstore for a book signing I skipped it and went to book club instead (it was our first meeting at the store). And then I heard some things about the book signing that turned me off a bit from the book and the author.
But ya’ll—it’s tough to ignore the fact that this book is touted as one of the funniest memoirs out there.
And funny it is. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a series of short stories that are strung together with the common theme of crazy. Crazy parents (ok, just her dad), crazy upbringing in a crazy small town (which is about 80 miles from where I lived when I lived out west), sane husband who puts up with all of Jenny’s crazy—which I’m pretty sure makes him crazy, crazy life after deciding to quit desk job to become a writer.  There were entire chapters where I laughed out loud. The wild maniacal laugh that generates worrisome stares from bystanders (or husbands). No topic is too sacred for Jenny’s biting wit and sarcasm and it was probably a good thing that I read this one mostly in the privacy of my bed and my secret reading cube at work. 
Though much of the book is ridiculously funny (or just ridiculous), there are moments of a more serious Bloggess where her vulnerability and true self shines through–her chapter about her repeat miscarriages and the subsequent fear while she was pregnant with her daughter had me nearly in tears and I felt like reaching through the book and offering a hug when she explained her extreme social anxiety. I have to admit that I was always glad to get back to the less serious stories, though, and there were some stories where her rambling got the best of her and I might have done a bit of skimming. In the end her editor could have put down a firmer foot (though from all the notes in the book it sounds like Jenny had that editor whipped).

Bottom Line: I’ll make it really easy for you by typing out two words I’m pretty sure I’ve never typed before on this blog. You could make a drinking game out of Jenny’s use of vagina and fuck and be quite hammered by the end of the second chapter. If either of these words in excess make you uncomfortable, I’d go ahead and skip this book. However, this is perhaps the funniest book I’ve ever read–funnier than Tina Fey, funnier than David Sedaris, and I’m sure there was another funny book I once read. So there you go.

Have you read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? I’m curious what your favorite story is except then I’d have to tell you that I found the episiotomy chapter the funniest of the bunch–and that just makes me sound crazy (though I sound even crazier when trying to explain this to my husband). And now you either really want to read the book or more likely don’t. I’m sorry….

Seriously, though–thoughts on Let’s Pretend This Never Happened?

Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are entirely my own. To read more discussion about Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, visit the BlogHer Book Club page.

27 Responses to “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson”

  1. This book made me laugh out loud so much. I follow her blog, and it is equally funny (with some serious thrown in, like the book). I’m not sure what my favorite part was (and it’s hard for me to separate the book from the blog). I enjoyed the whole thing.

  2. I found this one funny at first and annoying after a while. She worked too hard at being funny, if you ask me. I mean, really, who would wear a cheerleader outfit to a costume party and not wear underwear? I guess I’m too old for her type of humor.

  3. As someone who has also read very little of her blog, this review was very welcome! I didn’t think it would be for me, but if it’s funny without having the context of her blog then maybe I should rethink my decision. I like that’s it’s poignant, too.

  4. Ali

    I think you need to read some more funny books. :)

    I’m in the middle of this right now and overall I’m enjoying it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my end reaction was the same as Bermuda Onion’s. Well, except for the “too old” part, because my sense of humor can be pretty childish sometimes. I can’t look at that cover without at least a hint of a grin crossing my face.

  5. I listened to the audio version after my husband recommended it and really enjoyed it. I cried with her and I laughed with her. And I think she and I would get along great if we ever met in person.

  6. I could definitely use some funny, and this certainly seems up to the challenge of making me laugh. I love laughing in public while reading; it does people good to see something they find so shocking. :)

  7. I listened to this one and found it to be okay (if I remember correctly). I love your review. I wonder if you’ll ever use those two words on your blog again…

  8. Melissa (avid reader) kindly offered to send me her ARC when she was finished with it. I had her mail it to my mom’s house to save her the postage. My mom knew it was for me, but started reading it and stopped a few pages in because it was so offensive. Ha! I’m sure she now thinks I’m a heathen because I read it and actually loved it.

    Definitely not for everyone, but I find her humor hilarious, and I can relate to her panic attacks and anxiety issues. The end of the book lost a bit of steam for me, but there were so many times I was laughing out loud and that doesn’t happen to me very often.

  9. Ok, so I have TWO favourite stories from this book- one where she’s eating lunch with her co worker and imagining what she could do with a GIANT labia (I mean, WHAT?!) and then TELLS HIM ABOUT IT and makes him really uncomfortable, and the other is, um, the laxative one. SO FUNNY!

  10. I haven’t read the Bloggess website before, but I’ve heard of her. This does sound like a very funny book, though. I get in these reading moods where I love reading something funny. I liked Bossypants and I love Sedaris’s stuff. Will definitely have to add this one to my list.

  11. I’ve been on the fence about reading this book. Since you say it’s so funny, I’ll give it a go.

    Hmm … have I typed the words “vagina” and “fuck” on my blog? Definitely. But never in the same sentence. :-)

  12. Ti

    You can still share in Google Reader! You just have to choose Send To to share via FB or Twitter or Email to send it by email.

  13. I read her blog occasionally, apparently very occasionally since I missed the whole book thing. Will get it, I am always looking for more funny stuff to read, thing is that I’m very picky and it’s hard for a book to make me laugh. I like crazy and I don’t mind swearing, but I don’t like crude. Should I buy it?

  14. How funny, I just watched a video clip online of the author on Katie …was watching another author/speaker that was a guest and she was on! She talked a lot about the red dress. I am going to get this one on audio, it sounds like it would be funny to listen to.

  15. This is one I shrugged off.
    I too don’t read the blog but have from time to time read certain posts and liked it.
    But your review has convinced me.
    This sounds like something I could really dig.
    Especially the parts of honesty.
    Thank you for the awesome review.

  16. You and Lisa have convinced me to rethink reading this one. I’d kind of gotten turned off by all of the initial buzz.

  17. Les

    I’ve never read her blog, but I keep hearing great things about this memoir, so I may have to give it a try. Like Lisa, I was turned off by all the hype, but maybe I should reconsider. I hope I’m not too old for it!

  18. I’ve been really torn whether to read this book or not. Up until now, I heard terrible reviews and people said it was more of a book where you felt bad for the author’s lack of maturity. With that said, wow did your review change my mind! I love the idea of how funny the book is! I have a question though… on her blog, sometimes Jenny goes on tangents and her story goes on for a bit. She uses the word “and” several times during these bouts of writing style. Did you find this in her book? Just wondering because for me that writing style turns me off. Great review! :)

    • Siren – I don’t remember the overuse of “and” BUT this book does ramble quite a bit. As I said in the review, there were chunks that I skimmed to get through because her story went on and on. It is a very funny book but no–I certainly wouldn’t call Jenny mature. ;)