It’s been a while since I last wrote a full-on book review mostly because my reading as of late between moving apartments, transitioning jobs, school… and well, life in general just getting in the way of completing books and getting my thoughts out about them.
In undertaking my newest commute I’ve had to tailor my reading to conform to it’s inconsistencies and despite beginning the book over a month ago, I’ve only just wrapped it up now despite it feeling like a quick read. Furthermore, not only is it the diminished reading time, the context of the read was a bit of a shock-to-the-system. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized more and more my interest in family and how much it means to me, but I never expected to blindly pick up a book off the shelf that dealt with one mother’s experience with depression and child bearing.
It Sucked And Then I Cried by Heather B. Armstrong
Woah, not the book I expected. Wait, I didn’t know what I was expecting, the hardcover is mostly a flat orange with no print and a wrap around white spine with serif, block black lettering snapping out an all-caps title. I just picked it up out of innocence of it being non-descript, on a whim, needing something for the commute.
What I received was a deep and fascinating look into life. It transcended my own life, or the Armstrong’s life, or that of the untold millions of people figuring out their relationship with god or society around them, with depression in general or postpartum problems specifically, with themselves or their families ‘grander’ existence, with work or music or food or what it means to be a human being. It defined in a very aggravating, yet very enlightening way to attempt to describe what each of us probably goes through time-and-time again but never puts forth the energy or effort to document, never-mind dissect.
In part, I think that’s what made the text stand out so much.
It was raw, unfettered and ingenious. Throughout, Heather (and using her first name, rather than the more formal last is intentional here) draws you into her psyche as she confronts life headstrong in a very personal way, to the point where you feel like you might have actually made a real friend without having necessarily met them. She appeals to the underlying nature of struggle that we all know but few of us will ever gain the insight or strength to come to terms with, confront and conspire to overcome. It’s a lifelong extravaganza, really, to do as such and the book documents a brief moment in her life so far in attempting to do it. It shares her successes (and ‘failures’ even if they really weren’t) in doing such in a sarcastic, poignant and uninhibited way.
If this is the new biography the world should be frightened because it isn’t they way any of us necessarily need to have insight on our assumed heroes, and yet in our 24-7 news cycle, reality show dominated society this kind of flatly concise approach to the unfiltered, real-world, transparent ideal is inspiring. It makes me OK with the idea of having kids and allies my inherent fears that I was maybe too embarrassed to express about what the process might be like while simultaneously reinforcing my natural coping mechanism, the writing (and, more specifically, the blog).
Typically, when I piece together a book review, I try to remain objective and distanced from the review, but this particular style of writing does not mesh well with something that is as unabated as Heather’s approach to telling her own story. If she can be as open in her approach and that being the touch-point for me to review it, I feel obligated to approach my ‘review’ of it similarly in order to convey why her assessment of the experience could or would be touching to any reader: male or female, child interest or not, struggling with mental illness or not, religious or not, music dork or not, blogger-techy or not. Every last one of those potential readers, and I’m sure numerous I missed because I didn’t catch the relation in my own life, would enjoy what is presented in the book and probably walk away with a new set of insights into their own life.
This isn’t about having a kid, or not. It’s about accepting life, or not, and the plethora of reasons why one should not struggle to accept life, but do anything and everything within their power to do so, be you the person who is in the struggle or you as the person who knows the person struggling. There’s a part of me who now aspires to be what Jon was in the tale.
If the idea of that kind of inspiration isn’t enough to preempt your