Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Book Review: "Leslie F*cking Jones" by Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones is a human dynamo. She has tremendous presence—her voice and her height make you stand up and take notice. She comes across as brave and brash, seeming almost impervious to any barriers that stand in her way. But as you learn in her new memoir, Leslie F*cking Jones (like it could be called anything else?), her confidence stems from the challenges she faced in her life, the battles she had to fight to achieve her dreams.

For the most part, whether or not you'll enjoy this memoir depends on how you feel about Leslie Jones herself. This is not a polished, obviously ghostwritten book; Jones' voice is authentic, her language is peppered liberally with curse words and slang, and at times the narration seems to go off on tangents, the way people often do when they tell stories. As she puts it, "Hey you guys—some of the stories about my childhood are vague because a bitch is fifty-five and I've smoked a lot of weed. A lot of it is hazy, but I will give you the best recollection of it that I can."

While parts of the book are definitely hysterical, it's an emotional read as well. Jones faced some very difficult things growing up: her alcoholic father moved their family around a lot, and in many places she faced racism as well as bullying for the color of her skin, her family's lack of money, and her lack of polish. And tragedy certainly followed her into adulthood, as did brushes with poverty, fighting for a chance onstage, and trying to pursue fame without changing who she was.

One of the things that surprised me about this book and Jones herself is the importance she places on being a role model for Black girls and women, letting them know they're beautiful and worthy. It's a lesson she learned when she was younger and it never left her, even in the toughest of times.

At times the book gets a little too specific and detailed so chapters drag, but it's still an entertaining and powerful read.

"In the end, what I learned in the pandemic, and since, is what so many of us learned: life is life. It's not supposed to be easy all the time, and it's never as easy as we want it to be."

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