Laugh until you cry: "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer

Book: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Release date: August 16, 2016

Pages: 323 (Audio version: 8 hours, 6 minutes)

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Rating: ★★★★

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.

Amy Schumer is my problematic fave. Yup, I'm well aware of her issues, her blind spots and the fact that she's not a perfect, intersectional feminist. There are enough thinkpieces about all that out there, and they are worthy of consideration. These conversations are important and necessary.

But everyone's fave is problematic in some way, and while I don't ignore that, the fact is that I love Amy. I love her, I love her, I love her. I saw Trainwreck in theaters twice. I think she's a funny, genuine, expectation-smashing comic who brings awareness to a lot of topics that matter to me.

I had a lot of Audible credits racked up, so I decided to audiobook this one. Pretty much any audiobook I listen to is a memoir, because I love hearing the author tell their own story. I did listen to parts of the next book I'm going to review, which is fiction, with add-on Audible narration, but I'll get into that for that particular review because it was a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.

But back to Schumer. She says this isn't a memoir and that she's not old enough to write a memoir, so this is billed as a book of essays. And the nonchronological chapters do make it less memoir-ish.

What I got from this book is that Amy has lived. That's one of the highest compliments I can pay a person. I love people who can look back at their lives and say, I've seen some shit, I've done some shit, I've had some shit done to me, and here I am.

I'm someone who uses humor to cope with misery, so I wasn't surprised to see that Schumer has experienced her share of tragedy. But I was surprised by the particulars. She details an abusive relationship, and I was not expecting that. I wasn't expecting it because of the very reasons she highlighted. She's a strong, confident woman, and you don't imagine a woman like that falling prey to an abuser. But that's exactly it. It can and does happen to people you wouldn't expect. She exposes society's flawed emphasis on the "perfect victim" when she talks about how she lost her virginity to her boyfriend, without her consent, something she's joked about as "grape," a gray area of rape.

Things are also heavy in the chapters in which she talks about her father's battle with multiple sclerosis, describing two humiliating incidents when he defecated himself in public, and about how her mother's affair with her best friend's father broke up the family. I found Schumer at her most vulnerable when she spoke about her mother and how her deep love for her and their bond co-exist with her knowledge that her mother is a deeply flawed individual and that their relationship was lacking necessary boundaries.

There's more than enough levity in this book, though. I loved Amy's story about her one and only one-night stand, her tales of hooking up with famous guys she SELFISHLY refuses to name, and excerpts from old journals, with present-day footnotes. She also talks about how she got into standup, which was super interesting. There are stories about blackouts, dealing with sexist magazine editors and interviewers, and a rider for her funeral.

I found this book relatable and delightful. So many themes that I enjoy on her show were expanded upon here. I loved Schumer's audio performance of the book and definitely recommend this one.

And yes, she tells us all about the lower back tattoo.