Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

Subtitled: "A Life, A Witch, and A Wardrobe, or the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered, Smart-Ass Phase"

Remember the glory days of childhood where your biggest wardrobe concerns were whether you shouldn't wear yellow on Tuesdays (or was that Thursdays?) and if you remembered your sash for the Girl Scout meeting this afternoon?  Jen Lancaster remembers that and so much more.

Lancaster's made a writing career by telling her own life stories with wit and sarcasm. I've read some of her other books (who could forget the story about going to the unemployment office carrying a designer bag?) and they're all really, really funny. This time around, Jen's mining her childhood, teen years, college, and early adulthood - the pre-career Jen, you could call it.

We all have special childhood memories, but in addition to remembering "the lobster birthday" Jen also recalls what she was wearing and why. Framing these great self-mocking memories with significant wardrobe choices gives the stories a connecting thread - and a bit of foreshadowing, in many cases. Also, the luxury of time allows Jen to look back with added wisdom that brings a new depth to the stories: one story's big gay reveal is all the funnier because there are a signs, references and hints sprinkled in the lead-up, to all of which teen-Jen is hilariously myopic.

I listened to the audio, read by Jamie Heinlein, and this is a perfect car-read. It's laugh-out-loud funny and likely to send you on your own mini-nostalgia trip of bad hairstyles and questionable fashion.

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