The Book Report

‘Furiously Happy’ author lives joy-filled life despite mental illness

More stories from Erica Jones

DIY diaries
May 9, 2018

Mental illness is definitely not a joke, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make for a funny story for one author.

“Furiously Happy” author Jenny Lawson is a mother and wife who has struggled with a plethora of mental illnesses for most of her life. From social anxiety to depression to chronic insomnia, Lawson is no stranger to battling her inner demons. She makes this battle fun for herself, though, by doing whatever she can to enjoy even life’s most challenging moments.

While her wild antics aren’t always familiar — after all, most readers probably can’t relate to owning two posable taxidermy raccoons that they harass their cats with — Lawson’s pain is sometimes extremely relatable.

In these pages, she details moments where she hides from the outside world because the thought of talking to other people seems simply terrifying. Lawson also describes her experiences with self-harm and the ways in which her husband tries to be the best support system he can even though he doesn’t fully understand many of his wife’s struggles.

There aren’t many novels out there that have the ability to bring readers from tears to laughter within a few pages, but “Furiously Happy” is among the rare few that do.

In one chapter, Lawson and one of her friends take a trip to Australia to check off bucket list items, including cuddling with a koala; unfortunately, zoo rules forbid her from doing this, but the personnel allow her to snap a photo, which is in the book, with the sleeping creature. She also poses in her very own kangaroo onesie with a live kangaroo, also shown in the book.

Another section details a morning when she wakes up with both of her arms asleep, numb and completely useless. She flops around in a panic until she falls off her bed, her husband scolding her for being irresponsible and shirking her work responsibilities by hiding on the floor.

Written in a fun, diverse format that ranges from transcripts of arguments the author and her husband have to eccentric notes written in her phone to short essays, this book keeps readers’ interest by switching things up from chapter to chapter. There is truly never a dull moment in this novel.

“Furiously Happy” has a 3.9/5-star rating on Goodreads and a 4.5 on Amazon. I’d personally give it a 4.75. This is one of the most amusing novels I’ve ever read, and when Lawson is talking seriously about her mental illness, she writes with a level of honesty that’s hard to find elsewhere.

My dad recommended this book to me after reading it himself. He, a 50-year-old man, and I, a 20-year-old woman, both love the book despite having totally different life experiences, which shows me the story can appeal to a wide variety of readers.

From the first few chapters, I knew this book was going to change my life; reading about Lawson’s rollercoaster of a life made me want to try to see things the way she does: By insisting on making life’s boring moments exciting, and the already-good moments phenomenal.

If you’re looking to be inspired to adopt a new, crazy and ultimately better outlook on life, look no further than “Furiously Happy.” You can find this novel wherever books are sold.