It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had A Baby, A Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita.
I’ve been reading Dooce since she was pregnant with Leta- so that’s been six years or so, and that’s still not as long as her site has been up. I’ve introduced my now husband to it, and he and I often joke that we want to be Heather and Jon when we get older. I met her in Austin last year for SXSW, and had a lovely five minute conversation with her and all of this is to say: I love Dooce. I love Heather, Jon, Leta, Chuck, and Coco.
And that makes writing the review of her book difficult.
On the one hand, I think it’s incredibly hard to write a memoir for your blog audience because some of the specific stories we’ve already heard, and we already know that she had postpartum depression after having Leta because she chronicled it all. So it’s like how much more personal information can you really give us? And how much do we as a public have a right to want?
But the truth is, we want it all. Even though people write blogs about topics now and they aren’t solely limited to updating people on your thoughts, that’s still what we want from a personal blog. While this gets dismissed as “reading about what people had for breakfast,” the truth is we want the details of someone’s life. We want the heartache and the joy and most of all, we want the secrets. All of them. All the things you don’t tell anyone else and write in a diary, that’s what we want to know, because we want to understand other people and feel connected and somehow feel less alone.
So I feel guilty for it for being exactly like that: I wanted more from this book. I wanted it to go deeper. I wanted to know more about her thoughts and less about the day-to-day- precisely because I don’t actually know Heather in person, and I don’t know her well enough to know what the day-to-day stories mean in context of who she is- and part of that is because Heather’s blog isn’t as interactive as a journal in the LiveJournal community. She doesn’t limit who can see what; she limits what she puts out there, and I felt this limitation in the book as well, and I felt like it took away from the seriousness of depression, and postpartum depression.
But since Heather is a celebrity in her own right, and most other writers don’t have the daily transparency of finishing a memoir and then continuing their daily postings. So those writers can be deep and introspective in a book and then step back into the shadows again. I’d be interested to see how Brooke Shields had handled this balance in her book on postpartum depression.
I also wish that her editor had made a few structural suggestions, as I felt like several of the stories about her and Jon should have been moved to the beginning of the book (as they happened BEFORE) so the knowledge of their relationship could frame everything that happened- and how their marriage survived it.
Part of Heather’s writing style is to use a lot of hyperbole and over-exaggeration, which works well for blogging, as it helps make every post self-contained and compelling. But this same style proved distracting, especially in the first part of the book, as it made it hard to follow the larger story and I felt like it in part distracted from the validity of the situation. As someone with depression, I feel like one of the challenges is conveying to non-depressives that we feel crazy- and that we’re not. I wish she had talked about how depression had affected her life long before Leta, and what that really meant to be affected by this disease and live with it day in and out. And maybe that’s my fault for reading this book and wanting someone else to put words to how I feel and make me feel more connected and less alone.
Because depression at its core is to feel alone.
While it seems like the blog set up the book, I think in actually It Sucked and Then I Cried actually sets up Dooce, as Heather’s expecting her next child- and though she might have only shared as much as she could have this time around, we’ll be waiting with anticipation to see what she’s willing to share with us, her readers, next.