Vulnerability is Strength: Chelsea Handler’s ‘Life Will Be the Death of Me’

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Week of 4/21/2019 – Book recommendation: Chelsea Handler’s Life Will Be the Death of Me…and you too!

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Let me preface this book review by saying this: I love Chelsea Handler. I love how she is unapologetically herself. She keeps it real with her opinions and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. That “what you see is what you get,” / “I am who I am” type of attitude is sometimes what I aspire to have, and is what draws me to her personality. While I know her sense of humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I appreciate her for remaining true to herself, despite what others may think. In her newest memoir, Life Will be the Death of Me…and you too!, Chelsea shows an even more vulnerable side to her that I, and many others, haven’t seen before. She gets candid about her year in therapy, opens up about the loss of loved ones, drugs and marijuana, privilege and politics, and the hardships that come with being a dog-mom. All while making use of her sarcastic attitude and sense of humor, she strives to come to terms with why she is the way she is, and remains open to the idea of bettering herself.

One of my favorite aspects about this book is how Chelsea speaks so openly of her therapy sessions with her therapist, Dan Siegel. Recently, more celebrities have come out of the limelight to reveal that they attend therapy regularly, and I love the idea of ending the stigma surrounding mental health. Just like people note physical progress when going to the gym, what’s wrong with noting our mental progress when it comes to our emotions on a daily basis? Chelsea offers readers the advice / realizations that Dan helped her discover through therapy, and it has the power to help those who might not have access to therapy, or who can relate to her situations. It should be noted that while their conversations tackle heavy subject matter, some conversations bring out a more “playful” side to their relationship (or perhaps just Chelsea’s wit)–their back-and-forth banter made me laugh out loud, specifically on the topic of men and Chelsea’s decision to remain single.

Speaking of heavy subject matter, Chelsea discusses the unexpected death of her oldest brother, Chet, and the repercussions it had on the family dynamic when she was just nine-years-old. She also speaks about losing her mother and father, and how their deaths eventually taught her a lot about forgiveness, empathy, and to look at one’s life as a whole, rather than in moments of weakness. Essentially, death is a subject Chelsea tries hard to avoid talking about; yet, ironically becomes the very subject she needs to rebuild herself.

In addition to the more difficult subject matter discussed in this book, it is perfectly balanced out with more lighthearted subjects, such as dating, getting high, or training the newest four-legged members of her family, Bert and Bernice. I found myself reading this book with Chelsea’s voice engrained in the back of my mind, and I could totally envision her telling these stories in stand-up.

Life Will Be the Death of Me…and you too! took me on an emotional roller coaster. It had me tearing up from either laughing, or thinking about the loss of my own loved ones. I will admit that there are a few points she brought up that I didn’t wholeheartedly agree with–points I’m going to omit for now…but effective writing is supposed to spark emotion; both good or bad. I encourage you to read this book to better understand how the ups and downs of life can ultimately take you where you need to be…to know that you are definitely not alone in the road to self-discovery. Look beyond your personal, political, or religious beliefs, and keep an open mind. You never know, maybe you will take something away from reading Chelsea Handler’s words. I know I have.

Top 5 favorite quotes:

“If you went to the gym every day, you were going to get stronger; this was my mental gym” (84).

“I define me. No event or person does this. I define me. I decide who I am and how I’m going to behave, and I choose to be better” (104).

“…I didn’t need so many people around me all the time. That I was enough on my own, and that more time alone would be good for me…That happiness can come without all that noise, and that I can choose to find that happiness alone” (159).

“Don’t let other people decide what kind of mood you’re going to be in…Go down, but get back up” (234).

“…slowing down doesn’t mean you have to do less. It means you have to pay attention more and catch what the world is throwing at you. That every situation you put yourself in deserves your full attention, and that each of us has a responsibility to be more aware of ourselves and of others” (236).

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