Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Book cover of Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

So I’m not really much of a book-laugher, or a laugher-at-books if you prefer. I’m more of a snuffler – when something amuses me, I make a noise that’s kind of a hybrid between a tiger that’s pleased to see you and Muttley. Jenny Lawson, however, made me laugh out loud until I cried, both with her debut book and with her blog, The Bloggess.

Summary – Every teenager wants to fit in and be just like everybody else. So imagine how hard that is when your father runs a taxidermy business out of the family home, your mother runs the student cafeteria, and your sister has just been elected high school mascot, which means she walks the halls in a giant bird costume. But as Jenny Lawson grows up, falls in love, gets engaged – in a way that is as disastrous as it is romantic – and starts a family of her own, she learns that life’s most absurd and humiliating moments, the ones we wish we could pretend had never happened, are the very same moments that make us who we are.

I actually picked up Let’s Pretend This Never Happened before I knew anything about Jenny Lawson or her blog. It was part of the ‘Staff Picks’ stand at Waterstones and I figured I’d give it a go, intrigued by the costumed mouse on the cover. Only later, after I’d read the blurb properly, did I finally click onto The Bloggess. And then, approximately five hours later, I temporarily stopped reading it. 

It was almost inevitable that this book would be compared to Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Womanthe cover is unnecessarily similar and the chatty, informal writing style is great in both. However, although both are autobiographical to a certain extent, How To Be A Woman deals with the sub-issue of feminism while this book spends more time with mental illness and anxiety. When you also take in the difference in countries, upbringings and employment, you actually have two quite different books.

This woman is hilarious – reading her blog is at the top of my 4am activity list (What? You don’t have one of those!? You’re missing out!) and I nearly always end up literally crying with laughter. I was reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened on the train, tried to stifle my laughter and ended up choking. Like I said way up top, I am a snuffler, not a laugher, so this is one pretty damn special book.

   It was at this exact moment that the ‘dead’ rattlesnake suddenly started angrilily striking at Victor’s leg. Uncoincidently, it was also the exact same moment that I ducked back into the truck, taking the spotlight with me and leaving Victor in the pitch-black darkness on an abandoned road, as the angry rattlesnake he was holding tried to murder him.
   “BRING BACK THE LIGHT,” he screamed.
   “I TOLD YOU NOT TO GO OUT THERE!” I yelled angrily, as I quickly locked the doors (for some reason) and rolled up all the windows. I was worried about him and wanted to help him, but I couldn’t help but think that he had brought this on himself.
    “BRING BACK THE LIGHT OR I WILL THROW THIS DAMN SNAKE IN THE CAR WITH YOU,” he screamed, which was surprising, both because he sounded very vital for someone dying of snakebite, and also because he’d wrongly assumed that I hadn’t automatically locked all the doors. He knows so little about me,  I thought to myself.

   After a minute to slow his breathing, Victor’s voice was only vaguely controlled. “You left me alone. In the dark. With a live rattlesnake.”
   “No. You left me alone. In the car. For a live rattlesnake,” I countered. “So I guess that makes us even.” There was a long pause as he stared at me. “But I forgive you?” I said. 

There are one or two parts that I recognise from my avid trawlings of Jenny Lawson’s blog, but not many. I suppose it’s almost inevitable though – she’s only led one life, after all, there’s bound to be a little cross-over.

I have to admit that the book did go downhill a little bit towards the end. It started to get less funny and more about her anxiety disorder. It’s obviously a very important part of her life, but it was a bit repetitive. Also, the ending itself disintegrates into a generic, soppy memoir and it did make me lose interest a little. I was reading this for amusement, not pseudo-poignant musings on memories and reputation.

That said, I still loved this book – I can’t really explain how funny it is without you reading it yourself (which I highly recommend doing). It was difficult to not just post quote after quote for this review, because that’s pretty much all my notebook page for this review consists of. Just buy this – I dare you not to snuffle.

Visit The Bloggess, or find Jenny Lawson on Twitter. 


  1. Bex says:

    I REALLY want to read this. so much. I also spent about six hours reading The Bloggess when I first discovered it, and I heard the hilariousness levels were similar to How to Be a Woman, and we know how much love I have for that book. I may have to go buy myself a copy I think…Maybe as a 'I had a baby' present? That's totally a valid reason to buy a book, right? :-p

    1. Hanna says:

      It's a valid reason to buy whatever the hell you want! I've never HEARD of a better reason than that 🙂

      Do buy yourself a copy, it's amazing.

  2. Oh dear. I came over here to do some long overdue commenting, saw this review, clicked the link to The Bloggess and only just made it back half an hour later! You should put a health warning on this post!

    Needless to say, I really want to buy this now! I should probably just buy this and "How To Be A Woman" one day and get my re-introduction to memoirs over with. I'm not a huge fan of memoirs in general but I did read Michael McIntyre's a couple of years ago and that was funny so I liked it. So maybe what I don't like are *boring* memoirs, which is just fair enough, I think! 🙂

    1. Hanna says:

      I'm not a massive fan of memoirs either, but I do seem to be going through a bit of a 'funny memoirs' phase at the minute. It's just so, so funny. I literally, and with no exaggeration, CRIED. I can't decide between this one and Caitlin Moran's, so hey, get both 🙂

  3. I have been planning on reading this AND now that I find out Anxiety is mentioned I am really in. I have Anxiety really bad sometimes and people always turn their noses up to it like I am supposed to just shrug my shoulders and move on. Though I do find it interesting that if she does have anxiety how she can do book signings. I know she just had one here in Denver. Alas… I am like #200 at the library. 🙁

  4. I always end up laughing like a crazy person when I'm reading in public places but usually it's a P.G. Wodehouse or a Bill Bryson book that does it. Although memoirs aren't really my thing, I really want to read this. Thanks for a great review, now I'm off to The Bloggess!

  5. I love books that can make me laugh! This one is definitely on my TBR.

  6. Laura says:

    I basically never lol at books, (I do inside my head and all, just not so much outwardly!) so I really surprised myself by lolling at this one- in public no less! Twice! (stories about laxatives=just too funny!) So I'm glad you liked it too! I did like the musings as well though, but… I'm all sentimental like that.

  7. Ellie says:

    Oh maaan, I need to buy this book already. Also, read The Bloggess more. I cried laughing reading her post about the giant metal cockerel, I think I scared a few customers! Awesome review, if I wasn't about to move I'd buy it right now! 🙂

    1. Ellie says:

      Okay, so I bought it right now anyway, since we're not moving yet after all! I was *cough* treating myself for being a good girl and buying nice new autumn clothes like a normal person instead of spending five hours looking at bookshops. Also, because rain sucks. And other such solid and completely sane reasons. 😀

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