Friday, April 9, 2021

Guest Book Review: Broken (in the best possible way)

Introduction by Melissa Amster

A while back, my husband picked up a book that was sent to me and started reading it. He has been reading my books, as well as some others, ever since. However, he has yet to write a review for this blog. Tracey's husband Matt, on the other hand, not only got into two of Jenny Lawson's books, but he very enthusiastically wrote a review of her latest, Broken. I've hung out with Matt a handful of times since he and Tracey first got together (the long distance is a factor in this) and he's as delightful in person as his writing would lead you to believe. Tracey and I have this thing about the porch test from How I Met Your Mother and Matt definitely passes! I hope he will read more books from Tracey's collection so that we may see more reviews from him in the future. 

Review by Matt Meistrich

After having recently read Jenny Lawson’s earlier ‘memoir’ of her unusual childhood in rural Texas, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, I eagerly awaited the chance to read her more recent book, Broken (in the best possible way).  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened delved into her childhood, which was influenced by too many interactions with animals, dead and alive, due to her father’s fledgling taxidermy business. The experiences she recounts in that book are among the funniest you will ever hear. If you have not yet read  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, please do so, as it will make you laugh like you have never laughed before and make you feel better about whatever childhood traumas you’re now dealing with as an adult. After reading it, you will never look at many species of animals or high school the same way again. This reviewer will attest that memories of being around people who were inspiration for the TV show ‘Jersey Shore’ pale in comparison to her stories of random interactions with animals or what it was like being involved in  high school ‘science project’  artificially inseminating barnyard animals. 

Broken is more focused on her somewhat equally dysfunctional adulthood (and marriage, which she claims hasn’t ended because both her and her husband are too lazy to pursue a divorce) and more importantly, her significant health problems.  Unfortunately, Jenny suffers at times from many maladies, including extreme, debilitating depression and Rheumatoid Arthritis, forcing her to deal with an array of issues and problems you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. 

The main subject here is her semi-experimental treatment with ‘transcranial magnetic stimulation’ to treat her depression. Jenny pulls no punches in describing the full effect, impact and degree of her frequently crippling bouts of depression, and the struggle to treat it. She elaborates on the difficulties dealing with insurance companies, their stinginess and how pursuing almost any avenue of treatment in our health care system became a nightmare. Since her intended treatment is still considered ‘experimental’, she faced unimaginable challenges to have it approved. She details literally every letter, email and other correspondence she had during this arduous process, which thankfully did eventually result in it being approved. Jenny also demonstrates a profound gratitude for being able to receive this (successful and beneficial) treatment due to her privileges and advantages in life. Despite her struggles, she nobly recognizes the struggles so many others face to receive similar, necessary treatments in a health care system that even before this pandemic created too much health care inequality. The title of Broken itself is derived from her belief that we are all ‘broken’ in our own unique way, and that is what defines and distinguishes us. After reading this surprisingly uplifting book about depression, you have to agree with her. 

This book was a marvelous, quick read, and it quickly becomes clear why Jenny Lawson has achieved so much fame and adulation for her work. It’s all completely well deserved

Thanks to Henry Holt for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Matt Meistrich is a New Jersey native, a graduate of Rutgers The State University of NJ, a construction estimator by trade. Since all of those characteristics might be a negative stereotype or redundancy about the Garden State, don't be surprised that he is also now a guest blogger/ reviewer for Chick Lit Central, and that he recently moved to the Chicago area. He also appreciates the diversion CLC's books provide from his regular reading list of construction blueprints and car and airplane magazines.

More by Jenny Lawson:

No comments: