Genre: Memoir, humor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 23, 2014
336 pages, hardcover
NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for letting me read this.
I’m not going to lie, before I requested this book on Netgalley, all I knew about Josh Sundquist was that he was that YouTuber with one leg who dressed up as a Gingerbread man with one leg bitten off a few years ago. I’d never watched any of his videos or anything. Not that I was against him, I just never had.
Well, I have now. I’m subscribed to him on YouTube and follow him on Tumblr. It’s not because of the book. Well, it is, but probably not why you’d think. I’m going to give you a short rundown of what the book is about and what I thought about it overall, but the real reason I liked the book so much was because of the way I was able to connect with Josh. So here we go:
When Josh was 24, he realized he’d never had a girlfriend. Unless you count the one he sort of had in 8th grade that lasted 23 hours – but Josh doesn’t because he thinks you shouldn’t count a relationship unless it’s lasted a full day. So he decides to try and figure out why. Was it the way he looked? The way he acted? Josh’s book is broken into several cases, with a background section, hypothesis, and investigation for each, in which he details his encounters and friendships with girls and why they didn’t work out. The book is funny and interesting albeit heartbreaking and really, really honest in parts. Overall, I enjoyed the book (though I thought parts of it were melodramatic and the end was too abrupt and I wish we’d gotten a little more future since we got so much past). The diagrams and charts included were hilarious and had me laughing out loud several times.
But the part I really connected with was when Josh was talking about his disability. Alright, I know I have two legs, but I was surprised by how many similarities there were between how people reacted to him and how people react to me. In case you weren’t aware, I have no hair. I have alopecia, which basically means my body makes my hair fall out. Society has deemed that people who look different or strange are not quite normal and, therefore, it is okay to say really horrible things to them. Josh put into words exactly how I feel and how people react. It was so strange but wonderful to connect with someone you’ve never met and probably never will meet in such an emotional way. How insecure being different makes you, how hard it is (sometimes) for people to see past the thing that makes you different, how weird and awkward people can be about it. I felt connected to Josh even though the things that set us apart are wildly different. A few examples of passages I related to (NOTE: these were taken from an e-ARC and are subject to change in the final copy):
So now it’s really obvious—like right now everyone on the sidewalk where I’m standing can see that I have one leg. But at least there’s no question about what sort of disability I have. I’m not trying to disguise it with a fake leg or something. It’s like, what you see is what you get.
Again, I know I don’t have a disability, but this is exactly how I feel about wearing wigs or hats. This is what I look like, if you don’t like it, I don’t care. This is me. Another:
I’m not sure what it is about having one leg that makes people want to comment on it. But for some reason my disability gives many individuals permission in their own minds to say whatever they want despite our being total strangers. And often what they say ends up being quite awkward. Especially the questions they ask.
I mean, preach Josh. Oh my goodness. That quote is my life. People ask and say the strangest things and it is super awkward. I don’t mind people asking questions for the most part. What bothers me is the assumptions. Assuming I have cancer. It’s basically like saying, “Hey. You look sick. Are you dying?”
The bottom line: Overall, I liked this book. I had a few issues with it (it felt a little exaggerated in parts), but because I connected with it in such a profound way, I ended up really enjoying it. Also, I don’t think you have to have a disability or no hair or whatever to like this book. It’s funny, honest, and has some hilarious diagrams that should be seen.