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Woodstock Magazine

Book Review: 'I’m Just Happy to Be Here' by Janelle Hanchett

Apr 12, 2018 03:14PM ● Published by Paige Wallace

In 2011, Janelle Hanchett decided she needed an outlet. She wanted somewhere to vent about motherhood and life, and she hoped to find others like her. Through this need, her blog Renegade Mothering was born.

“I am proof that not every woman enters motherhood in some gentle, planned, ribbon-and-ruffles way. Not every woman likes this crap. Not every woman fits neatly into this mold created and reinforced by irrelevant books like What to Expect. Not everybody is a good mother, all the time. In fact some of us are bad mothers most of the time.” (“Playdate in my trailer” Renegade Mothering, January 2011)

This blog led to Hanchett’s first novel, a memoir titled I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering. The book delves deeper into the lower points of her life than the blog does, such as the removal of her children by her mother and the menacing and horrendous thoughts that ate up her consciousness and drove her to self-medicate with hard drugs and alcohol.

“I couldn’t stay and I couldn’t leave, and when the permanence of motherhood dropped on me, when I understood that no matter where I physically went I would not escape it, my panic was indescribable. I was a feral cat in the first moments of capture, scrambling and clawing and screaming as she realizes there’s no exit to her cage.” (I’m Just Happy to Be Here, 47).

This memoir is different from most of the memoirs you’ll find on the shelves of your local bookstore. Janelle Hanchett shares some of the most demeaning and embarrassing stories about her time as a drug addict. She expounds on the nature of postpartum depression and the helplessness of it. She shares soul-shattering moments of letting her loved ones down and the consequences of her actions.

As a reader, I seek out books that will resonate with me. I am not a former drug addict, nor am I a recovering alcoholic. I am also not a mother, and yet I felt this book on a deep, emotional level that I did not expect. Hanchett offers wit that will have you laughing on one page, and five pages later, she’ll lay down some raw truth that will have you reaching for your tissues.
Hanchett’s memoir comes out on May 1, but you can preorder it on Amazon or at Pleasant Street Books & Cards & Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock as well as, The Norwich Bookstore.

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