This is a stunningly perceptive, hilarious memoir of the transformative humiliation of childhood--and adulthood--from a truly original, already beloved voice.
When Heather Havrilesky was a kid in the seventies, it seemed there were only disaster movies. Burning towers, devouring earthquakes, careening airliners, alien pod invasions. To be prepared, she and her siblings fabricated elaborate plans to escape any and every emergency. But what began merely as a childhood game grew into a way of life where something shocking lurked around every corner.
A brave and hilarious memoir, Disaster Preparedness charts how the most painful moments in Havrilesky's life prepared her for a cautious but honest adulthood. From her naïve take on her parents' D-I-V-O-R-C-E, to losing her virginity in less than ideal circumstances, to losing her father way before she was ready, in chapter after chapter Havrilesky peels back the layers of her childhood innocence and reveals the wounds that have shaped her, the lessons that have--despite her thickheadedness--managed to sink in, and the laughter that has carried her through.
By laying bare her bumps and bruises, Havrilesky offers hope that anyone can create a frazzled and unruly, desperate and wistful, fabulously frayed-at-the-edges plan to stare disaster in the face, to meet it head-on. Uproarious, sophisticated, and wise, Disaster Preparedness is a field guide to personal disasters from an irresistible voice that gets to the heart of it all.
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About the Author
Heather Havrilesky writes the popular Ask Polly advice column on Substack and is the author of What If This Were Enough?, How to Be a Person in the World, and Disaster Preparedness. She has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, and NPR's All Things Considered, among others, and also maintains the Ask Molly newsletter, written by Polly's evil twin. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.
"I love Heather Havrilesky's work and have been reading her for years. She's smart, hilarious, unique--just terrific."-- "Anne Lamott, New York Times bestselling author"
"Heather Havrilesky's memoir nails the sheer life-or-deathness of the Very Important Things in a suburban kid's world with a shticky self-awareness of how very unimportant they turn out to be."-- "Elle"
"Havrilesky's winning essays venture into the perils of socialization and dating, always keeping a light, self-deprecating tone that attains at moments a wonderfully humane sagacity."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"Her sweet and witty examination of...aspects of a 1970s suburban upbringing focuses on lessons learned along the way. Havrilesky's reflections on the damage and the growth caused by living through life's myriad little disasters, and her enthusiastic conclusions about the value of our efforts just to live our lives, are encouraging and designed to remind us that we are, in fact, OK."-- "Library Journal"
"While this memoir is dedicated to her fiercely independent mother, she creates a pensive, loving, and honest eulogy for her late father, the spontaneous adventurer. The end, refreshingly free of spite and full of hard-won optimism, is the true accomplishment of her work."-- "Booklist"
"Heather Havrilesky captures the weird, chaotic, innocent but also jaded, sweet but also kind of rancid essence of childhood in the 1970s. And if that's not enough, she takes us--hilariously, painfully, utterly relatably--through the entropy of being a teenager in the 1980s. At once sharp and tender, Disaster Preparedness both laments and salutes what it means to belong to a family--and indeed an entire culture--that seems inherently unmoored."-- "Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House"