Review: Happy and sad at the same time

Nora McInerny’s newest memoir, “No Happy Endings,” was released Wednesday.


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Nora McInerny

by Sophie Vilensky

As she implies in her newest memoir, Nora McInerny doesn’t pay loads of attention to positive reviews of her work.

Nora, if you’re reading this, the appraisal is sunny. You’re free to move on to the next review. I adore you!

Released on Wednesday, “No Happy Endings: A Memoir” is in many ways a follow up to McInerny’s first book, “It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying is Cool Too),” which was released in 2016.

As it goes with memoirs, the new book picks up where we left off in McInerny’s timeline. As it goes with life, the past finds its way back in, too.

McInerny knows loss. In her first book, she chronicles the death of her husband, her father and unborn child.

The second collection touches on these aches (too small a word!), too; grief doesn’t end when you send the first memoir to print.

But there’s also new stuff: another marriage, a baby, tattoos and stepkids — Sophie, if you’re reading this, I adore you too.

It’s the details here that are so sweet. Nora’s now-husband Matthew flipping chicken nuggets on both sides so they’re perfectly crisp, a hot tub in a middle of a hotel room and the importance of being 4 3/4.

There’s no definitive closure to the essays in “No Happy Endings.” You can read the book in a night or meditate on each chapter for a while. As the title suggests, it’s not a “look! everything turned out fine!” book.

But the “endings” aren’t particularly sad, either.

McInerny invites the reader into her stories in a seemingly healthy way. She’s processing still and lets you know this.

There are lessons to be gleaned, but everyone’s story of pain unfolds differently. McInerny shares her own to let you know that this is OK. Maybe you can’t write the way she can, but you can have the thoughts you’re scared to have.

It’s about empathy, the fact that grief is a byproduct of love and being OK in your own head.

And you will cry! Who’s to say how much, but you will cry. Hot burning tears and giggly tears and the kind of tears where when you think about them afterwards and feel a little jab in your heart. 

It’s hard to really “review” this book; it feels so true to its author’s heart. Maybe it’s because I don’t write enough book reviews, or because I live in the same community as McInerny and think she’s really cool (if you didn’t stop reading — hi again!).

But how are we to judge someone’s pain and growth and sadness, happiness and everything that comes along with these heavy emotions?

We just have to thank McInerny for sharing. It’s weird to peek deep into someone’s life and then close the book and move on with your own.

But maybe you need it right now.

We probably all will at some point.