I’ll admit, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into when I started reading Jen Lancaster’s “Bitter is the New Black.” In all honesty, the only reason I found out about the book is because Emily Giffin tweeted to her some time last year and my curiosity was peaked.
I knew I wanted to read her book after reading the title. (Okay, I won’t judge a book by its cover, but my attention WILL be captured by a cheeky title.) I even checked the book out at the public library last year, but had to return it before I had the chance to start it (something that seems to happen way too often.)
Well, I’ve been on a reading kick ever since I moved to Houston because let’s be honest:
I don’t know anything about the city,
I know 3 people in a city of millions,
and I hate cleaning.
I knew that once I finished the Hunger Games I would need something else to read.
As fate might have it, while hanging out at our friends’ apartment a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a collection of Lancaster’s books on her shelf. I squealed in delight and told her that I’d been meaning to read her books. The friend oh-so-kindly let me borrow Bitter is the New Black, and as soon as I finished Mockingjay (along with the one-day mourning period to reflect over the ending of the series) I started BITNB.
I really had no idea what the book was about. I read the description on the back, and I’m not going to lie: I tend to get excited about any story that describes itself involving an “ex-sorority girl.” (I’m partial to Greeks, get over it.)
But dear Lord, I didn’t know what I was getting into.
(If you don’t want to read spoilers, you might want to skip to the end of this post).
I’ve never had a book speak to my soul so much as this one did.
Lancaster’s description of herself at the beginning of the book left me with a weird mixture of jealousy and admiration. Jealousy of her ability to purchase high end clothing, handbags, and makeup, and admiration of her bold, “eff you” attitude.
But once we reached her description of 9/11, I was hooked. I totally didn’t realize it was coming, and hit me like a tons of bricks. It immediately transported me back to that day and how I felt. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel having a very important interview and living in one of the largest cities in the country on that day.
She goes on to explain her experience with the struggling economy and how it affected her job hunt as well as her husband’s. Having a husband myself who experienced 20 months of unemployment, being jerked around by employers, having job offers tangled in front of him and ripped away, and dealing with depression… I wanted to kiss this woman.
She UNDERSTOOD. She put into words exactly how the past almost two years have been for us. Struggling from paycheck to unemployment check to asking mom and dad for money to just hoping that the clothing that you sell will be enough to help cover food for the month… I’ve been there. And so has she. That’s what made this book amazing to me.
Even more amazing, though, is that she started blogging. I had no idea that she had her start by a simple blog, gaining followers and fans along the way. Not only did her honest style cause her to receive emails from completely dense readers, it cost her a job. Now, this was in 2002. If it could cost her a job in 2002, imagine what a blogger could lose in the internet world of 2012.
(end of spoilers)
More than anything else, this book was a kick in the tush. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been told that I had a way with words. And my friends know that I’m not one to be shy about the way I feel about things.
SO WHY AM I SUGAR COATING THE WAY I BLOG?
Well, I don’t want to hurt feelings or turn people away. I know that I may have controversial views about things that many of you may not share. And I’m not going to push those on you (nor am I going to write like a speak because let’s be honest, I don’t need my family reading my sailor-speak).
But I am going to start being myself.
I’m sorry if that offends you. You are more than welcome to stop reading my blog. I’ll miss you. But I’m going to be myself. Who cares if my blog has a pretty background or 400 followers? It doesn’t.
So to you, Jen Lancaster, I appreciate the wake up call. With your 400 page book, you gave this girl exactly the renewed energy that she needed to continue blogging in a way that she could stay true to herself…
For that, I am extremely grateful.