Star rating *****
This book changed my life.
That’s a big statement isn’t it? But it’s true.
I confess that I have never been a big Amy Schumer fan before. I have not seen her movie Trainwreck. I have not been to any of her gigs. I have not watched her TV show. I’d heard her name and I knew she was a comic and that she was famous. And I knew she was mates with Tina Fey (but I had only really learnt who Tina Fey was from watching a recent film that she starred in – the title of said film escapes me.)
So in summary, I was not a fan girl by any means. I’m not really the fan girl type.
Then, as mentioned in a previous post, my mate told me that one of the chapters in her book reminded him of me. So I of course had to check it out to see why he was making such a statement and if I should be offended. (Note automatically on the defensive. Oops.)
I read about three pages from that chapter that were available on Google Books and I was hooked.
It was like reading something I had written myself but forgotten all about it. Her words spoke to me in a way that no biography ever had before. And the timing of me encountering this book was by no means coincidental.
Amy Schumer is a feminist. She might not like that word – I don’t know. But she screams equality from every other page of that book. She speaks candidly about her experiences. So candidly in fact that I think she redefines the word! Her account of how she lost her virginity, her description of her experience in an abusive relationship, the way she explains her relationships with family members and boyfriends, and how much of an absolute cheerleader she is. Her chapter titled ‘Beautiful and Strong’ left me wanting to whoop and shout in agreement with her and in camaraderie with all other women.
This book is inspirational and brave.
Amy’s account of her relationship with her mother is probably the bravest thing I have ever read. Her mother will have read that chapter (and all the other little references to her in all the other chapters). And while Amy may well have exchanged those thoughts and feelings with her in private, there is nothing quite as brave as laying out those feelings on the pages of a book that half the population of the west are going to read. I mean – wow. I don’t think I would ever have the guts to write about my mother like that in such a public way; certainly not while she was still able to read it herself. But Amy did it. I imagine this was for the same reasons she wrote down all the other personal stuff in this book – because people can relate, and because she wanted to make sure that they didn’t feel alone.
When she recounts her experience in an abusive relationship, she states that she is telling this story because she is strong, and loud, and no one would ever believe that this could happen to a girl who isn’t timid and shy. But the truth is it happens all the time. “You are not alone,” she says. “I got out. Get out.”
I hope that the telling of that chapter saves at least one woman’s life; I hope it saves them all.
She was also very candid when recounting her experiences with ex-boyfriends and temporary love interests – I hear this particular type of candour is kind of her trademark. Most of these guys will recognise themselves in her prose, which I find utterly hilarious. And for the rest of us, it will have you thinking “me too!” and “oh wow I am so glad that has never happened to me!” [I am particularly thinking of the personal trainer guy – seriously!]
Another person who will recognise themselves in her prose is her childhood best friend with whom she fell out, in quite an unusual scenario, which I found painful to read let alone live through. That woman undoubtedly has read that chapter about herself. I can’t imagine what that would feel like. I hope she picked up the phone.
Her beautiful accounts of her father and his heart-breaking battle with multiple sclerosis will leave you with a new found ability to reserve judgement on those around you. It is true to say that you never know what someone else is going through, and you should therefore always be kind. But there is knowing that from reading a bumper sticker, and then there is reading the accounts of a child watching their parent lose control of their own bodily functions and continue on regardless, striving to be there for their daughter.
Amy doesn’t sugar coat. She doesn’t skim over the ugly parts. She lays it all out for you; the complexity of family relationships and the humanity of it all. She made me feel like she understood the crazy in my life [and trust me, there is plenty of that]. She left me in awe at her bravery, at how totally frank she was and how scarily accurate and relatable her perceptions were.
And if that wasn’t enough, she inspired me to believe that I can be greater than I am. Her description of how she became a comic, what she was born to do, made me believe I can do what I was born to do. I can get a book published, I can live my life the way I dream it. All I have to do is work hard, and get up there on that stage [the metaphorical life stage, not one at a comedy open mic night!] and just do it – just do me! Every day. Over and over again. Just get out there, get up there, and keep plugging away at it. Practice. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Oh, and be brave. I know I am a long way off possessing the balls that Amy Schumer has [probably, as she states, because I have never been faced with stone wall silence while performing comedy to a room full of people]. But one day I will have balls that size too.
To be inspired, cheered on, told you are not alone, and made to laugh out loud along the way, get your copy of Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. You’ll be changed forever – in a good way.