Rating: 5 Stars
I have to say, it kind of confuses me in looking at some of the reviews and ratings on Goodreads. Some people took stars off for the book not being funny enough for them. It makes me wonder if any of them bothered to read the synopsis.
This is easily my favorite book by Handler - and not because I laughed my ass off the entire time reading it. This is not a funny book. This is a book where Chelsea deals with growing up, so to speak, to coming out of her bubble, and seeing that happen is truly impressive. There is humor still, in some of the narrative, but at its heart it is about Chelsea dealing with something she barely mentions, but it is obvious in all her other books that it has impacted her entire life from that moment on: the death of her brother Chet.
I absolutely love her for so many reasons, but the main one has to do with her honesty. No matter what, I feel like Handler is someone who will always give you the truth. She is honest about her life, her perspective on people and issues impacting our world, her own lack of knowledge on certain topics, and her desire to become more educated on said topics. That is one of the reasons I loved her Netflix talk show so much and was bummed when she ended it.
This book, however, explains why.
Handler discusses her experiences in seeing a therapist, who was once a guest on said show, Dr. Dan Siegel. She works through the trauma and grief over Chet's death, and how it impacted her entire family. The way she writes and speaks about it is so raw and with such emotion and honesty. I was both incredibly impressed with the growth that came out of the sessions, and deeply saddened for her and her family.
While I love Chelsea and admire her, prior to reading this I have to admit that I didn't know if she was someone I would be able to be friends with (you know, that hypothetical game you play where ultimately everyone says they want to best friends with Mindy Kaling because she is hilarious and awesome?) The reason for this is that I also find Chelsea Handler to be kind of intimidating. I mean, I am pretty outspoken and blunt, straight to the point, no fuss. But Handler is on a whole different level and I previously felt like, wow, she would peace-out on me rather quickly. But after reading this book, and getting to see this new side of Handler, I completely take back any previous thoughts about not being BFFs, and have concluded that in fact, yes we would be BFFs after all. It doesn't mean she is any less intimidating, it just means that seeing the vulnerability she puts on display here is truly amazing. It truly humanized her. This is not the same Handler we have seen on her various shows through the years, and being able to look inward, she has come to some really good conclusions about herself, her life, her family, and how to be a better person.
Handler is the first to admit she came completely unhinged after trumplethinskin's election. But that eventually lead her to the point where she began examining her privilege as a white woman in the US and what she has that so many others don't. Handler deals with those topics just as well - politics, her burgeoning activism in the aftermath of the election that stunned all normal, logical, forward-thinking people, and more. Her humor is there, but a bit more restrained, because these are not funny topics. This is the most serious and introspective of all of her work and as I said previously, by far my most favorite.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts comes in one of her therapy sessions, when dealing with empathy and Handler deals with this and how to have empathy for others. It was definitely shocking for her, and something that wasn't easy, but was very eye-opening and relatable. That in itself seems to me to be one of the major turning points for her on this self-discovery trek she has embarked on.
While most of us will never live the "privileged" life that Chelsea Handler does, readers will still be engaged in the story and connect with it. After all, everyone has lost someone they love, everyone has dealt with the same issues Handler is dealing with in the book, and we can all learn a little from one another.
Excellent read, highly recommended.