A few times in my life a book has come along that was a game changer. Back when I first went back to school and didn’t know anything about publishing or the industry, I came across The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry, by Gabrielle Zevin and became introduced to a plethora of careers I’d never heard of, but sounded amazing. Or when I first read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett- I read that one in a weekend, all these issues that were never talked about opened up worlds for me. Or when I read The Great Gatsby and realized that the “classics” weren’t so bad. Those books affected me in ways I never could have dreamed. Encouraged me to step out of my little bubble and use books not just for entertainment, but for information too.
This is Really Happening, by Erin Chack was one of those books. And I can see how, by looking at the cover, you might think it’s just some comedian trying to make light of their experiences but this book shook me. Made me crack up at times and ugly-cry (for real) at others. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Erin Chack, she is a writer for Buzzfeed, the popular site known for list making. So many times during this book I had to pause and just breathe, because Erin has been through some heavy stuff. Like battling cancer. And some less heavy stuff, like road tripping across the U.S. with her friends.
Chack is able to take her experiences and write about them as if she is talking to her best friend. She puts her personality in the spot light. This alone gave me strength. As someone who has tried for her entire life to fit in, it was reassuring to read these stories. They help show that we are all trying to figure life out. And while there are many times in the book she seems to feel like the odd one out, she is in fact completely relatable. Writing that brings weirdness front and center, you can see that in this passage where she says:
“It felt a little like saying something aggressively nice about a kid in class you don’t know very well, like, ‘When Jim reads from the textbook out loud, his voice is like warm chocolate and I want to bathe in it,’ and then turning around to find Jim standing right there” (Chack, 62).
That is the kind of writing (and experience) I can relate to. Showing one’s weirdness and refusing to apologize for it is just what this book does. This book shares stories from her life that tell of vulnerability, teen angst, determination and love. A person who doesn’t hide behind what is popular and conform to what everyone else is doing, but instead makes her quirks work for her. This is a person to look up to. And that is why this book will never leave my shelf. So thanks Erin Chack, for baring your soul, apparently I needed this book.