Rachel Bloom is the creator of the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and this book is a collection of writings on what normal is. Or rather, the fact that everyone thinks that they or their life is weird, and that out there somewhere is Normal. It’s partly a memoir, with stories about Bloom’s own life, and partly a look at the ideal of Normal, through essays, poems, stories, scripts and a few other formats too.
On the whole, it’s a really funny book. I liked the kind of “mixed media” format. It was fun that each chapter was slightly different. It’s vibrant. And Bloom isn’t afraid to share her own personal stories and maybe overshare sometimes too. (There’s quite a lot of time spent talking about toilets in this book) Sometimes it’s pretty raw and messy, a bit like life, but always with an eye on that theme of normality, and that it’s not really a real thing.
I like books like this sometimes. It’s great to see people’s perfect curated lives, but it’s also great to get real sometimes and talk about the gritty, often hilarious, imperfect, human parts of life. I feel like this book is somehow kind of reassuring, and I enjoyed reading something funny during this time (you, pandemic and all that).
I felt like sometimes Bloom has this interesting way of seeing her life. She talks about being bullied and how it was worse for her than anyone else, and then points out her own bias, and how saying her experience is worse than yours is kind of bullying as well. It’s like she’s self aware and also not always self aware. She tells one story about having a crush on a kid at school, changing her personality so he’d like her, and then following him around everywhere. She ends up getting him put into detention for making racial slurs about her, but then going to detention to hang out with him where he can’t get away from her. She says, jokingly I think, that he had power over her because he was one year older, and yet, there’s something very odd about the whole thing that is very funny, but also feels like maybe she’s not completely aware of her own intense and perhaps bullying behavior towards him? There’s a kind of bitter thread running through some of the humour at points, and I think that’s very human. She can see her own part in the events in her life, she can see the funny, very human side of them and has accepted that and is very self aware, and yet sometimes, I feel like she doesn’t really see herself and her own actions clearly as well.
On the whole, I really enjoyed reading this, and found it pretty interesting as well. Even though I’m nothing like Rachel Bloom, and she over shares a lot, I kind of like her after reading this. I haven’t had the same experiences as her, and yet I can relate to her. And I love her turn of phrase. She was a real theatre nerd, and so there’s a lot in there about that. She also talks about mental health, sex, relationships, bullying at school and as an adult in the workplace, and what makes people be a bully. It’s a lot of serious stuff, but the book is always funny and down to earth, and I think it’s a pretty cool book. Also, I love the Babysitter’s Club style cover. It’s really dramatic and funny.
Read It If: you’ve ever felt like you were weird and somewhere out there were people leading Normal Lives. It’s funny, honest, sometimes too honest, and great for fans of Rachel Bloom.
I won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway, so thank you to them and Grand Central Publishing. This review is my own honest thoughts and feelings.