Book Review: 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened' by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True MemoirLet's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Blogger Jenny Lawson's memoir Let's Pretend This Never Happened really burned me up.

Literally. I was so entertained by this collection of memories of this hilariously honest woman whose not-quite-ordinary family takes the meaning of not-quite-ordinary to a place my oddball relatives couldn't imagine in their wildest dreams that I let myself bake without basting under the Carolina sun last Sunday to the point that I am no longer a white girl but a pink one with very unattractive blisters that want concealing.

There's that dramatic old saying that your best friends are just that because they know where you buried the bodies (because they helped you bury them). Check. Got that. On a less dramatic note, your best friends are the ones you can invite to the family picnic.

We've all got that aunt or uncle or sister who defies explanation. Our best friends get it because they have a set of their own who travel with lawn chairs to their backyards on all those patriotic holidays. The weirdness begins when the sundowners arrive. The fireworks are merely a distraction.

Lawson's book supplies the narrative to the experience of being an ordinary, oddball American whose wardrobe did not come out of The Children's Place or even Sears but out of the can-and-will-make-do-thank-you-very-much America of self-sufficiency and faux-wood-grain paneling that we who knew the 70s personally can't think of without curling our toes and changing the channel--quickly.

Lawson's memories are shaped in a big way by the social anxiety that never leaves her in peace and plays a key role in her getting her foot into her mouth in an array of social settings. Her struggles with social anxiety make her stories poignant in that yeah-yeah-yeah-been-there way. At the end of the book, her return home, where she is completely and comfortably herself, make her book complete. (The last chapter makes me think of the Dove men's commercial featuring Andy Pettitte in which he says he has worked hard to be comfortable with himself. These Texans are on to something.)

After reading the book, I remarked to a friend that I thought it was extraordinary there are so many memoirs out there by people who haven't exactly done anything extraordinary. I had to catch myself on with that one. What's more extraordinary than being here? It's worth taking notes. It's worth noticing.

If you read this book at the beach, bring plenty of sunscreen or you'll wind up looking like me.


  1. Sounds like a very good read...I have it on my list

  2. Good review. My friend gave me a humorous memoir by David Sedaris. She told me it was strange and hard to relate to but I had no problem because my family was more like his than hers.

  3. lol

    Having friends who know where your skeletons are buried. lol
    Those people sound threatening. Invite me or else I'll tell. lol
    Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.

  4. sorry you got sunburned...are you going to write your memoirs?

  5. Interesting, So many books, so little time.

  6. Sounds interesting. I love memoirs. Have you read "Zippy" or "The Glass Castle," or "Still Life With chickens." Another one I liked was "Here if you Need Me" about a female Chaplin to the Game Wardens in Maine.

    I often think about "just being" and how that is all I have to do, to "just be" and how that is good enough. I've spent too much of my life trying to justify my existence and being disappointed when I didn't feel worthy or noticed! There is beauty in the ordinary at times. We all need some of it to contrast with all the flash! Besides, does anybody really have an ordinary life? I just don't want it to be dull or boring!


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