Why would a farmer, gardener or health-enthusiast care to read the memoir of a Hollywood brat? In many ways, Jenny Pentland’s book, This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir, about her life after her mom, Roseanne’s, meteoric rise from poor housewife to well-paid comedian is a cautionary tale about how fame and fortune impacted this unprepared family. Far from being an opportunity to whine about the hard life of celebrity, Jenny Pentland depicts many relatable moments about her struggle with weight and mental health issues, bad health advice from self-appointed experts, discovering where food really comes from and exploitation by the medical system as well as the values of persistence, resilience and knowing one’s own mind.
Read by the author. Great pacing, relatable tone. The reader gets the full comedic effect of funnier bits and cathartic tone of the more painful parts.
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Pentland expertly weaves an entertaining intimate insider story with the pragmatism of a documentary. In her own witty style, she shares stories of her pre-fame youth playing with dolls and her adoring family which is eventually eclipsed by her devastating experiences in and out of fat camps, and drug and mental institutions as a pre-teen and teenager. She uses thought-provoking, often hilarious commentary on complicated family dynamics, a public affair and divorce, spirituality, finding a long-lost sister, scummy paparazzi bastards, pregnancy and childbirth, cancel culture, and most importantly — compassion and forgiveness for her parents, who did the best they could given the information available and cultural norms at the time.
Like her mom, Jenny struggled with her weight. The problem escalated during the early days of her mom’s new career as her dad tried to feed a gaggle of hungry kids while his wife was in another state working to lift them out of poverty. In those not-so-long-ago days of the late 20th century, institutionalizing and dehumanizing overweight people was considered the gold standard. Some would argue that this continues albeit with a 21st century makeover. The twist in Jenny’s case, however, is that after attending a few fat camps as a child, she somehow found herself doing time in a number of mental health and addiction institutions.
One of these places actually admitted that they only kept her there because her insurance was the best they had ever seen. She was reduced from human to commodity. She was profitable to the institution to the tune of $1M per year.
While her experiences with such places only reinforced what I already know about medical corruption, they also serve as a reminder not to jump to conclusions. Roseanne has taken a lot of heat over the years from singing the Star-Spangled Banner off-key at a baseball game in the 1980s to support for Donald Trump in 2016 and beyond. It is easy for us regular people to point fingers as if we ourselves are perfect, but how many of us would survive five decades under the scrutiny of the general public?
One review I noticed on Amazon seemed almost appalled that Jenny could relay her story frankly and even find some humor in the absurdity of events in her former life. I think this reviewer misses the point.
To me, this book feels like a caring hand offered to those who may feel alone in their plight, when the obstacles to wellness and sanity seem insurmountable. Although she would vehemently disagree, in many ways, the book is about survival not just once, but over and over again. No matter what was thrown at Pentland, she got back up, got her bearings and figured out her plan to either cope within the system or change it. In short, creating the future we want requires our own consciousness and willingness to navigate the tough times lest we become complacent and allow the will of others to overshadow our own.
Intentional or not, Jenny Pentland’s book teaches us not to be defined by what was done to us or to care what others think.Tweet
Somehow, Pentland never descends into an abyss of self-pity — a lesson for us all because victimization never helps anyone. She has seen the nasty underbelly of this thing we call success and how it can impact families’ choices. Perhaps it is as a result of this that she understands one’s life purpose is not to accumulate as much of the earth’s resources as possible, at any cost. This, in particular, resonates with me and presumably most people interested in the fate of our food and environment.
While many tell-all books from celebrities’ family members serve to tear down (or occasionally prop up) an image, her words humanize not only her mother, but public figures in general. At the end of the day, we are all flawed, butt-hurt human beings, who make choices based upon the advice we receive, past experiences and trying to keep our heads above water in a materialistic world. Can we at least agree on that?
Where to purchase
This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir is available through Amazon or fine booksellers now.
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