I should preface this book review by saying that I’m not a fan of Amy Schumer as an actress or as a comedian. So if you’re hoping for me to share a few of her best one-liners, you might be disappointed. But after listening to Amy’s self-narrated audiobook, I now have a better perception of her as a writer.
“The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” is not an autobiography or a self-help book, but it does contain in-depth, and somewhat heart-wrenching stories about Amy’s life. In each chapter, she candidly walks through different mistakes and realizations she’s made in her life. And she shares her reason for becoming a comedian, which I can appreciate.
Does Amy Schumer Live a “Trainwreck” Life?
For many people, “Trainwreck” isn’t just the name of a movie starring Amy Schumer. It’s also a proper term for discussing her career as an actress and as a comedian. And since Amy’s book reflects stories about her life, some people have a similar opinion about it.
“The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” is 34 chapter-length stories, or about eight hours of audiobook listening time. However, at least half of the stories are about Amy smoking pot, drinking, or having sex with a cute guy. The other half is teenage journal entries, as well as Amy’s thoughts about adulthood. Her entire book reads like one of her stand-up comedy routines. But since I’m not a fan, some of her jokes feel like they drag along forever.
Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, which pretty much sets the pace and tone for the rest of Amy’s book.
Exaggerated Claims: New Money, and Living a Rough Life
Amy Schumer often professes her love for gefilte fish, then candidly jokes that her vagina might smell similar. At least, I hope she’s joking. But while her crude jokes add shock value to her stories, her exaggeration never stops. Especially when she’s talking about money.
Amy dedicates an entire chapter of her book to boast about her family’s wealth. And I mean massive wealth, which not only afforded her extravagant birthday parties as a child, but also sent her to college for a degree in theater.
However, she calls her personal fortune “new money” because she had a rough time earning it herself while in college. She claims to have paid for everything herself, which might be true, but to me, living in a tiny studio apartment, working as a waitress, and surviving off tips is not “roughing it”. Many college students have to work shitty jobs and live in places they don’t want to.
“People with egos that don’t let them acknowledge the truth.”
In a chapter called, “Things that Make Me Insanely Furious,” Amy shares talks about her dislike for self-absorbed people with inflated egos. But I find the entire chapter ironic because she also seems like a bit of an ego-maniac.
Amy also seems to think that every guy she meets wants to sleep with her. She says that she prefers only hooking up with guys who don’t know she’s famous, but then in the same breath, she brags when she has sex.
“I was fine having sex with a stranger, but sleeping next to him was too much.”
“Every dollar I made for shooting ‘Thank You for Your Service’ went to the families of PTSD victims and charities of military families. It’s fun to give money away.”
Amy loves to boast about spending money on frivolous things. She even takes a moment in her book to warn readers before she begins. Because she says she knows how some people feel offended about overspending.
Besides boasting about sex and money, my biggest complaint against Amy’s inflated ego involves her drinking habits. She rants about not liking drunk people, but she never once addresses her own addiction to alcohol. She’s quick to call out her father for being an alcoholic, but she claims that her own drinking problems, specifically why she blacks out, comes from a medical issue.
Regardless of her reason, if she’s drinking enough to the point of blacking out, she obviously has a problem.
A Heart to Heart Moment with Amy Schumer
I’ll be honest, it was difficult for me, at first, to find anything nice to say about Amy Schumer or her book. And I thought removing all the twisted exaggerations, explicit sex scenes, and flagrant language would leave me with nothing left to review. But once I did, Amy managed to surprise me by how much depth she has a writer.
When Amy Schumer talks about her relationship with her family, there’s more substance to her writing, and I can finally get to know her off-stage. I can see down to the core of her mental health, and understand how she feels inside her soul as a writer.
Amy writes about her mother’s extra-marital affair with a teenage friend’s father, which led to their falling out in High School.
“Being the child of an alcoholic father and whatever my mom is had made me almost incapable of believing the people I love won’t leave me or hurt me…”
And she writes about her father’s diagnosis with MS, and all the complications he faces while dealing with his illness.
“The saddest realization I’ve had in my life is that my parents are people. Sad human people. I aged a decade in that moment.”
She Hides Her Sadness Behind Funny Stories
After filming “Trainwreck”, Amy Schumer received a lot of slut-shaming and criticism from fans and reporters alike. She shrugs off most people’s comments, but deep down, I can tell she still feels everything.
“Beautiful, ugly, funny, boring, smart – or not, my vulnerability is my ultimate strength.”
I think Amy’s strategy as a comedian is similar to how the average class clown is able to gain popularity within his or her peer group. She knows that laughter is contagious, and making people laugh with her means there’s less people laughing at her.
“Life is full of pain and disappointment. I’ve made a whole career out of pointing this out and reliving it in ridiculous ways so that everyone can laugh and cry along with me.”
Her vulnerability, and her need for protection are the main reasons why Amy Schumer became a comedian.
“I became a woman by turning a solemn, quiet room into a place filled with unexpected laughter. I became a woman because I did, for the first time, what I was supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.”
She Laughs through Painful Moments
Unfortunately, learning to laugh about almost anything does have its downsides. Because some people think no amount of insults or criticisms hurtled toward a comedian can hurt them, which is untrue.
“I look at the saddest things in life and laugh at how awful they are. Because they’re hilarious, and it’s all we can do with moments that are painful.”
Another problem with making a career out of joking all the time is the risk of slowly becoming oblivious to potential harm. Amy shares stories about being a victim of both sexual assault and domestic violence. But in both situations, she ended up defending, and even comforting her attackers.
“When you’re in love with someone who hurts you, it’s a special kind of hell.”
Amy Schumer Empowers Women in Comedy and in Hollywood
Amy Schumer often butts heads with pushy reporters, and those who address her as a female comedian. She says she’s just a comedian. End of story. And her movie, “Trainwreck” is just a comedy, not a female comedy. To her, a person’s gender, looks, or weight shouldn’t define them, even though Hollywood seems to think so.
“I know my worth. I embrace my power. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story. I will. I’ll speak, and share, and fuck, and love, and I will never apologize for it.”
In the final chapter of her book, Amy explains the meaning behind her lower back tattoo, and her past mistakes, which is another testament to her inner strength.
“There’s nothing anyone can say about me that’s more permanent, damaging, or hideous than the statement I have forever tattooed upon myself.”
In closing, I have to say that I’m glad I got to read Amy’s book and discover a different side of her personality. I still find most of her jokes obnoxious, but at least now I can see past her on-stage façade.
“I wear my mistakes like badges of honor. I celebrate them. They make me human.”