Shrill Book Review

 

Journalist, blogger and comedy connoisseur Lindy West recounts the ups and downs of her uproarious life in her memoir Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman. The title Shrill is almost like a mission statement for the entire book. West is a forthright woman who continues to speak even when society (and internet trolls) tell her and other women to shut up and keep quiet about their struggles.

The book is filled to the brim with jokes and one-liners. West grew up watching stand up and comedy shows. Her comedy mainly comes from pop culture and talking about women's issues like, for lack of better phrasing, how women talk when there are no men around. It is blunt and honestly refreshing to hear a comedic voice like hers. If you choose the audiobook version (like I did), you get the added bonus of hearing West tell the jokes with the comedic timing originally intended.

Like any autobiographical material, some chapters are more difficult to get through than others. West, like every person, has has experienced some pretty low points in her life. West talks about experiencing body shaming her entire life and learning to live in a society that said it was okay to ridicule her. She also worked as a journalist during the inception of Twitter and internet trolls. West was constantly put into situations where she was attacked and systems meant to protect people from harassment failed her. The book goes over how she carried herself during all the trials life threw at her and created something positive out of it.

Despite the sometimes painful subject matter, Shrill is actually quite optimistic. At a publicity event at Mount Holyoke College in 2017, West said that she wrote the book in 2015 with a hopeful outlook for American society and where it is headed. West talks not only about the barriers she faced over the years, but also about how much things have changed. Attitudes are different now than they were in the 2000s, which really was not too long ago. There are now more laws for equality and public discourse around certain minority groups that have changed. There have also been attempts to monitor harassment on the internet and police people. West emphasizes the importance of celebrating the small victories, even if they aren’t the end result you were quite hoping for, because they are reactions to the work you put in.

In the last ten years, there has been a trend of celebrities writing memoirs; musicians, actors, and even YouTubers have all been writing memoirs on their relatively short lives. With the plethora of autobiographies out there, why should you read Shrill? Other than the fact that it is well-written (I’m sorry, but sometimes I see other books and wonder how an editor approved them), West’s story is one that hasn’t been told enough. She talks about intersectional feminism and taking action, while at the same time acknowledging the good fortune she has had in her life. And, as previously stated, the book is funny and uplifting. A nice book to read if you’re feeling down. Check it out!

 

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