Laughing While You Cry: "How To Weep In Public" Book Review

Ida Jardines

4 Stars

July 14, 2016

DISCLAIMER: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.


“For the Depressos” is how the reader is greeted within the first couple of pages of Jaqueline Novak’s memoir, How to Weep in Public. Right away, we’re told that her book isn’t meant to help us get better and she’s not going to advise us to seek help. Instead, this tongue-in-cheek walk through depression encourages people who suffer from depression to embrace it; not only embrace it but to own it from the womb all the way through feeling like you might have a handle on the disease. Novak is constantly reminding us to give in to the side effects of depression while also causing us to laugh in public.

I chose to read this book because I heard great things, and besides, who doesn’t like to have a laugh at depression? Without reading too much, other than the front cover, I automatically put Novak and her book into the Jenny Lawson category. They’re both women, both suffer from depression, and they’re both funny. The comparisons end here. Instead of reading about Novak’s experience with the disease, I found myself reading instructions on how to be depressed peppered with scenes from Novak’s life. There were times when I wished I knew more about the author but I came to realize that I appreciated her focus. This book wasn’t about her. It was about me. It’s about you. It’s about anyone who has ever felt sad. She really is trying to encourage us to lean in.

In one particularly funny part of the book, Novak talks about her obsession with self-help books, mainly Tony Robbins. Throughout the rest of my time with How To Weep In Public, I found myself thinking, “She is the Tony Robbins of depression!” Honestly, it was refreshing to read a book that suggests you resign yourself to what you’re going through. Hers is a self-help book but a self-help book of another breed. Does she have it all figured out? No, she readily admits. However, it’s far better to read the thoughts of someone who has fought in the trenches rather than from someone who has overlooked the battle from their air conditioned comfy office.

If you’re sad, if you know someone who’s battled depression, if you’re just looking for a great memoir to read…pick up this book and allow yourself to weep in public.