A friend told me she picked up this book for the title alone. She didn’t know Julia Sweeney was part of the Saturday Night Live cast several years ago. She was just drawn to the title and the blurb on the front that says “Laughing through the worst year of my life.” My friend kept recounting the funny parts, so I had to read the book for myself.
Julia Sweeney is well known for playing the androgynous character “Pat” in the SNL skits and the 1994 movie It’s Pat. She also has appeared in numerous television shows and films, including Pulp Fiction and Beethoven 3.
But this isn’t a Hollywood “tell all.”
The book describes how Julia is at a turning point in her life in the 1990s. Her stint with SNL was ending, her marriage was breaking up (amicably), and she was ready for a new start.
I was finally an independent adult! I felt so mature and self-reliant. I had gone to college, I’d started my career, I’d even had the big wedding, and that BIG relationship. But nothing was more exciting to me now than having my own place.
And that’s when God just said… “Ha!”
Her brother Mike, who had always been an independent, private individual, was diagnosed with lymph cancer. His condition worsened quickly and he had to move in with her in her new, cozy bungalow. Her parents, whom she loved (but perhaps loved best from a distance of several hundred miles), moved in with her to help take care of Mike. And Julia was reduced to sleeping on the sofa in the dream home she had finally created.
The interplay of Julia and her parents had me laughing out loud. She writes that the fresh chunky salsa she purchased was replaced with a can of tomato paste that her mother was sure could double as salsa. Julia’s mother interrupted her at work because she couldn’t find the Parmesan cheese. It blew her mom’s mind that she had to grate the chunk of Parmesan in the fridge herself. “And she said, shaking her head, ‘Oh, Julie, you don’t have to do all that.'”
Then when things can’t get any worse, they do. Julia herself is diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer. But she focuses on taking things one day at a time, and she continues to find humor in the interactions with her family.
Don’t get me wrong: there was a point where I had to continue reading through my tears, but I didn’t feel the book was about the cancer, or the medical treatments, or the unfairness of life—it was about family. A quirky, loving family. And Julia Sweeney does a fantastic job of taking the reader through the journey of the worst year of her life.
Check the WRL catalog for God Said, “Ha!”