You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual For Dangerous Minds, by Jenny Lawson
This book is not exactly an owner’s manual, and indeed, as far as genres go this book is not an easy one to determine. Just because this book doesn’t fit genres too easily doesn’t mean that this book is hard to enjoy. Quite the contrary, it is a very easy book to enjoy, both in terms of what it says as well as the beautiful artwork. Yet as is often the case with this author, one has to be aware that there are questions that one may have going into this book that the author does not wish to answer. While it is clear that the author believes that she has a dangerous mind because of her diagnoses of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (both of which, along with PTSD, I have been diagnosed with myself over the course of my life), there are many aspects of her dangerous mind that remain unclear. How does her dangerous mind affect her day to day life? What was the etiology of her condition? Perhaps it is impolite to wonder such things; it certainly would be so to ask about it, but all the same this book and the author’s writing in general invite such questions without providing the answers.
Most of this book is not very heavy in text. In fact, this book resembles the most the sort of sketchbooks with occasional texts that are sometimes aimed at women in order to aid with Bible study, although this book’s sketching does not have any sort of biblical or scriptural focus in that regard. On the contrary, this book has the sort of self-help that one expects from messy people who live messy lives and who think, for example, that the worst choices make the best stories (although there are plenty of terrible choices one can make that will not make for very good stories if they end up in rapine and murder and things like that). The drawings are beautiful and often adorned with text, but what accompanies the beautiful drawings are insights that are the sort that one would gain from a fortune cookie. Even so, the encouragement to be kind to oneself and to recognize one’s uniqueness as well as the fact that one is not alone in one’s struggles and that one can overcome the past but will often have scars and wounds that remind oneself and others about that past are certainly worthwhile no matter how they are conveyed.
It is not surprising to know upon finishing this book that the author had a hard time figuring out a title for this book. This book would not appear to be an easy one to title. Nor is it an easy one to categorize, except that it could be considered pretty easily as an art book or a self-help book. Perhaps the author felt that the rather basic instructions provided in this book amount to a user manual, but they are by no means detailed enough about the workings of our minds, hearts, and spirit to serve in such a role. Rather this book is like a well-meaning person of somewhat limited eloquence who puts a hand around our shoulders and seeks to comfort us when we are struggling particularly notably. And though this book is by no means as ambitious or as deep as the author thinks it is, this is certainly not a bad result. Again, this is a very good book of beautiful and thought-provoking drawings with some rather superficial text attached to it, and for those of us who have dangerous minds, there is certainly value in that.