The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 16th 2016
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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 friends - 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.
While I wouldn’t call myself a super fan, I have enjoyed some of Amy Schumer’s work. I don’t think you have to be a fan to appreciate The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, though. If you’re a hater I don’t know if this would convert you exactly, but I think it can be enjoyed as an interesting take on life, especially life as a woman.
This isn’t quite an autobiography, though the majority of the chapters do tell autobiographical stories about Schumer’s life. I was expecting more fluff, or at least more “here’s how I became famous” tales. While she certainly does address her career and some of the challenges she’s had there, the really moving stuff in the book is more personal in nature. Schumer hasn’t exactly had an easy life, and the most interesting and heartbreaking chapters are the ones where she talks about her parents, her childhood, and her romantic life.
I think the strength of the book, and the reason I’m reviewing it here, is that so much of it might feel relatable to 20- and 30-something women. Schumer talks about navigating complicated relationships with her parents, about a sexual assault, about poor choices in her love life, about struggles with body image, about finding her voice, etc. She talks about lessons those experiences taught her in a way that’s not preachy or self-aggrandizing, and she doesn’t shy away from admitting she’s screwed up many times. She doesn’t come off as a saint, and I appreciated that openness. But despite the sometimes heavy subjects, Schumer is still a comedian, and she is able to joke about even some dark topics. That kept the book from getting too ponderous, and it kept me laughing in between a few tears. (And if you’re offended by Schumer’s comedy, you probably aren’t going to find this book very funny so, you know, be aware.)
I listened to this as an audiobook, which is my favorite way to read memoirs and autobiographies because hearing the author read their words adds depth. I thought Schumer did a great job with the audio (something you certainly can’t say about all authors!), and I thought it gave me a better understanding of her purpose in writing this. In particular, her emotions really broke through in the chapters about her mom and gun violence, and one could sense that these might have been the harder stories for her to tell as they are clearly still raw subjects. If you have a chance to listen to the audio version, I’d definitely recommend it.
I was unexpectedly moved by this book, and I appreciated it’s honesty and approachability. Depending on how you feel about Schumer you may be more or less moved by her stories, but I think it’s worth a read.
Grade: 4 out of 5