Turner’s genius lies in her anecdotal storytelling cloaked in universally relatable fears and public displays of embarrassment. In “True Love Story,” Turner declares that the ultimate in awkwardness is shopping for a mattress with your boyfriend and your mother at the same time, while she dedicates nearly the entirety of one chapter to bullet points detailing “How to Be Chubby,” with winning tips like be sure to eat your children’s leftovers, fantasize about exercise without actually doing it, and learn to be content with your size as long as you’re happy and healthy. She turns to the serious, too, in “Sorry About the Plague,” as she muses on the human need for connection amid isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Readers can expect plenty of laughs, at others and themselves, as Turner reflects on familiar themes like acceptance—“Cool people simply fail to admit things about which the rest of us are more forthcoming”—and parenting: when waiting in the school pick-up line, Turner routinely embarrasses her daughter by rebuking other children’s bad habits, justifying her actions with “I promise they had it coming.” Throughout, her unconditional self-acceptance is refreshing, and readers with a soft spot for humor mixed with candor will be thoroughly entertained.
Takeaway: An entertaining read that makes being awkward cool.
Great for fans of: Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?; Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
In this collection of essays, a humorist reflects on the awkward incidents and characteristics that have shaped her life.
“In my mind,” Turner writes in the opening of this volume, “I’m a goddamn cheetah. Sleek, stealthy, lithe, with a teaspoon of danger.” But upon reflection, the author acknowledges that “my body leaks and creaks and sweats” and that she has the “ability to land in cringeworthy situations and/or directly cause them.” In this compilation of 26 essays, the endlessly hilarious Turner walks readers through the awkwardness that is her life, from an overactive salivary gland and gastrointestinal issues to her fangirl fixation on fellow essayist David Sedaris, who “is unaware of our bond.” Featuring an abundance of self-deprecating anecdotes from the author’s personal life, this work becomes an homage to the awkward readers who wear taped-up glasses, spend too much time in public bathrooms, and are “bling-free in a sparkly world.” Constantly relatable, the essays include the perils of husband-and-wife DIY projects gone wrong and couches that swallow TV remotes and socks into their cavernous abysses. An entire chapter provides a “Field Guide” on “How To Be Chubby” that concludes with sage advice. Previous works by the author, published under the name AK Turner, include the popular Vagabonding With Kids travel series and an unfiltered confessional about the trials of motherhood, This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store (2012). This volume is a worthy addition to Turner’s impressive, award-winning repertory. The author’s fearless honesty in grappling with her own personal quirks and bodily irregularities will surely resonate with a wide range of readers beyond a target demographic of middle-aged mothers, as nearly every essay possesses at least one laugh-out-loud moment (often delivered in the sidesplitting footnotes). Fans of Turner may be disappointed that a handful of the essays appeared in previous publications, and some readers may object to the volume’s scatological humor and predilection for four-letter words. But for those with a fair share of awkward idiosyncrasies, this collection is a delightful read that celebrates people’s eccentricities.
An incisive and entertaining celebration of awkwardness.
This year, we welcome Amanda Turner as our guest speaker. Amanda is the New York Times bestselling local author of How to Be Awkward, the Vagabonding with Kids series (Brown Books) as well as This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, Mommy Had a Little Flask, and Hair of the Corn Dog (Fever Streak Press). Her works have received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, IPPY Awards in Humor and Travel, Foreword Indies Awards, Independent Press Awards, and inclusion in BookLife’s Top 5 Indie Books of 2014.
She is a coauthor (with Elaine Ambrose) of Drinking with Dead Women Writers and Drinking with Dead Drunks, and a contributor to the anthologies Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana (Traveler’s Tales), Little White Dress (Mill Park Publishing), Will Work for Apples, I Just Want to Be Perfect and I Just Want to Be Alone (Throat_Punch Books). Her work has been featured online at Money Inc, Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, The Huffington Post, Nickmom, What the Flicka?, Home Exchange, Sivana Spirit, and Artocratic, among others, and in a variety of print publications.
A former humor columnist, Turner served on the board and as president of the Idaho Writers Guild and speaks at conferences and in live comedy events. Also a former Writer-in-Residence for the City of Boise and Idaho State Parks, she lives in Idaho with her husband and two children, but travels frequently as a part-time digital nomad. She hosts an annual writing retreat in Todos Santos, Mexico.