• Skype: @lyrical.gypsy
  • diem@lyricalgypsy.com

Category ArchiveWriter’s Block

Amy Schumer - The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Amy Schumer: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo Book Review

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.

Amy Schumer: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo Book Review

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 that 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.

But regardless of 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, as well as all 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 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.”

Rachel Hollis: Girl, Wash Your Face Book Review

Rachel Hollis: Girl, Wash Your Face Book Review

I’ll admit, before reading “Girl, Wash Your Face,” I had never heard of Rachel Hollis. Or her husband, Dave Hollis, a former big shot for Walt Disney Studios. Yes, I often write about celebrities and entertainment news, but I don’t follow people or popularity. So, a person’s semi-celebrity status or name-dropping abilities doesn’t impress me.

But perhaps my lack of knowledge about Rachel and her family’s everyday life is a good thing. I only know her as a writer, so I’m able to deliver an honest book review to my subscribers without worrying about who I might offend.

Who is Rachel Hollis?

Yes, this is a book review, not a biography, but I feel like it’s important to know about an author before I either promote or trash a book they’ve written. So, let’s start with the basics.

Rachel Hollis was born on January 9, 1983, and she grew up in Weedpatch, California as a preacher’s daughter. She attended a small country Church of God, but she always had dreams of living in a big city. Today, she’s is a loving wife, a busy mother, and a successful entrepreneur.

In her book, Rachel shares her struggles about coping with her older brother’s suicide, her father’s temper, and her awkwardness as a teenager. She also shares details about her battle against Bell’s Palsy, which causes facial paralysis, and her bouts of depression.

“If Rachel Hollis tells you to wash your face, turn on that water! She is the mentor every woman needs, from new mommas to seasoned business women.”

Anna Todd | New York Times bestselling author

“Rachel’s voice is the winning combination of an inspiring life coach and your very best (and funniest) friend. Shockingly honest and hilariously down to earth, Girl, Wash Your Face is a gift to women who want to flourish and live a courageously authentic life.”

Megan Tamte, Founder and co-CEO of Evereve

Things I Like about Rachel Hollis’ Book: “Girl, Wash Your Face”

Again, I don’t know much about Rachel Hollis’ personal life, or her previous work. But I do know enough about her as a writer, and as a motivational speaker to write this review. And from what I can tell, there’s a lot to like about her as a person. She seems to have a straightforward, carefree, and witty attitude, and she seems passionate about her life, her children, and her job.

I like the self-help topics Rachel writes about in “Girl, Wash Your Face.” And her candidness while speaking about taboo subjects, such as suicide and depression. Her stories feel shocking, at first, but also necessary because too many authors worry about offending an audience.

I also appreciate that Rachel includes takeaway notes at the end of each chapter called, “Things That Helped Me.” In motivational writing, takeaways provide an inside look into an author’s thought process while offering advice to the reader.

Finally, I feel like anyone; man or woman could benefit from reading Rachel Hollis’ book. Yes, the stories come from a woman’s perspective, but most self-help topics speak to human nature, not a specific gender.

Do Numbers Ever Lie?

Rachel Hollis’ book, “Girl, Wash Your Face” currently has over 10,000 reviews on Amazon, of which 82% came from readers giving the book a 5-star rating. It’s hard to argue with numbers, but sometimes the majority vote isn’t always right.

Based on the book’s content alone, I’d gladly give it a 4 or 5-star rating. But after thinking about the book as a whole, I have to agree with the other 18%. “Girl, Wash Your Face” deserves a 2 or 3-star rating from me, and here’s why.

 

 

Structurally Unsound Motivational Approach

This book feels structurally unsound from the beginning. Yes, I know it sounds harsh to compare a motivational book’s advice to an old and decrepit bridge that might fall down. But frankly, I find Rachel’s foundation a bit shaky, for lack of a better word. Her writing seems fine, but her motivational approach feels ingenuine and somewhat condescending. Let me explain.

“Girl, Wash Your Face” is twenty chapters focused on the same, unwavering premise that everything a female reader believes about herself is a lie. In fact, every chapter title starts with the words: “The Lie” followed by a catchy subtitle. The Lie: I’m Bad at Sex. The Lie: I’m a Bad Mom. But in my experience as a spiritual life coach, lies, perceived or otherwise, invoke a person’s natural defense mode. And it’s difficult for most people to learn while they feel guarded.

Also, claiming that something is untrue doesn’t make it false for everyone else. Rachel’s lifestyle is much different from mine, and from most of her female readers. She’s married to a former top executive, and she lives the life of a business mogul, so her truth is not the same as not my truth. I appreciate her sharing her story, but her advice seems improbable for my life.

 



 

Reads More Like a Celebrity Memoir

I’ll be the first to say that Rachel Hollis seems extroverted and personable. However, “Girl, Wash Your Face” reads more like a celebrity memoir, and a list of Rachel’s credentials, rather than a motivational book for women.
Motivational speaking is like having a conversation with another person. But just like a conversation, no one wants to listen to twenty chapters of another person bragging about themselves.

There’s too much about “me” and not enough “you” in this book. Rachel mentions being “a popular blogger” with a slew of fans and gaining most of her publicity as a “celebrity party planner” at least a bazillion times. But then, in the same breath, she lists the Fruits of the Spirit. Yes, confidence makes a great entrepreneur, but exercising humility is equally as important, and I just don’t see much humility from her in this book.

Rachel also shares many stories about being a lifestyle blogger and a motivational speaker in her book. But at times, she seems to veer away from motivating other people, and more toward praising herself for her personal accomplishments.

In 2018, “Girl, Wash Your Face” made it to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Then, six weeks ago, Rachel Hollis staked her claim among Amazon Charts Top 20 bestsellers. She was also named as one of the “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” by Inc. Magazine. No doubt, Rachel’s entrepreneurial resumé speaks for itself, but I wonder if all the publicity is going to her head. Let me explain.

Feels Like a High School Power Trip

After Inc. Magazine named Rachel, she started receiving invitations from colleges to be a keynote speaker. I expected her to share a story about having an opportunity to inspire hundreds of future entrepreneurs, but her reaction was quite different.

As the story goes, one college student stood up to ask a question, but then made the mistake of addressing Rachel by her first name.

Rachel wastes most of a chapter by going on a tangent about one student’s question: “Can you tell us the secret of your success? Like what’s the one thing that truly gives you an advantage over others.”

Here’s how Rachel explains her reaction.

“Because apparently we call adults by our first names now because we’re a bunch of hippies…”

“God bless our youth. God bless these wee infants that believe a lifetime of hustling and working…”


Rachel Hollis | Girl, Wash Your Face | Chapter: The Lie – No is the Final Answer

I don’t know if Rachel felt insulted, or if she’s just bad at making jokes, but her perceived arrogance still baffles me. Regardless of her intention, her approach seems hypocritical, especially after she had just said:

“Holding each other accountable comes from a place of love. Judgment comes from a place of fear, disdain, or even hate.”

Rachel Hollis | Girl, wash Your Face | Chapter: The Lie – I’m Better than You

If Rachel went to the college to motivate and inspire young entrepreneurs, rather than promote herself, who gives a shit about a name?

I don’t think I’ll be seeking any more de-motivational advice from Ms. Hollis, but I do have one question for her:

What’s wrong with hippies?