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I'm Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering

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From the creator of the blog "Renegade Mothering," Janelle Hanchett's forthright, wickedly funny, and ultimately empowering memoir chronicling her tumultuous journey from young motherhood to abysmal addiction and a recovery she never imagined possible. At 21, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the reckless self-confidence of those who have no idea what they're getti From the creator of the blog "Renegade Mothering," Janelle Hanchett's forthright, wickedly funny, and ultimately empowering memoir chronicling her tumultuous journey from young motherhood to abysmal addiction and a recovery she never imagined possible. At 21, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the reckless self-confidence of those who have no idea what they're getting into. Having known her child's father for only three months, she found herself rather suddenly getting to know a newborn, husband, and wholly transformed identity. She was in love, but she was bored, directionless, and seeking too much relief in too much wine. Over time, as she searched for home in suburbia and settled life, a precarious drinking habit turned into treacherous dependence, until life became car seats and splitting hangovers, cubicles and multi-day drug binges--and finally, an inconceivable separation from her children. For ten years, Hanchett grappled with the relentless progression of addiction, bouncing from rehabs to therapists to the occasional hippie cleansing ritual on her quest for sobriety, before finding it in a way she never expected. This is a story we rarely hear--of the addict mother not redeemed by her children; who longs for normalcy but cannot maintain it; and who, having traveled to the bottom of addiction, all the way to "society's hated mother," makes it back, only to discover she will always remain an outsider. Like her irreverent, hilarious, and unflinchingly honest blog, "Renegade Mothering," Hanchett's memoir speaks with warmth and wit to those who feel like outsiders in parenthood and life--calling out the rhetoric surrounding "the sanctity of motherhood" as tired and empty, boldly recounting instead how one grows to accept an imperfect self within an imperfect life--thinking, with great and final relief, "Well, I'll be damned, I'm just happy to be here."


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From the creator of the blog "Renegade Mothering," Janelle Hanchett's forthright, wickedly funny, and ultimately empowering memoir chronicling her tumultuous journey from young motherhood to abysmal addiction and a recovery she never imagined possible. At 21, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the reckless self-confidence of those who have no idea what they're getti From the creator of the blog "Renegade Mothering," Janelle Hanchett's forthright, wickedly funny, and ultimately empowering memoir chronicling her tumultuous journey from young motherhood to abysmal addiction and a recovery she never imagined possible. At 21, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the reckless self-confidence of those who have no idea what they're getting into. Having known her child's father for only three months, she found herself rather suddenly getting to know a newborn, husband, and wholly transformed identity. She was in love, but she was bored, directionless, and seeking too much relief in too much wine. Over time, as she searched for home in suburbia and settled life, a precarious drinking habit turned into treacherous dependence, until life became car seats and splitting hangovers, cubicles and multi-day drug binges--and finally, an inconceivable separation from her children. For ten years, Hanchett grappled with the relentless progression of addiction, bouncing from rehabs to therapists to the occasional hippie cleansing ritual on her quest for sobriety, before finding it in a way she never expected. This is a story we rarely hear--of the addict mother not redeemed by her children; who longs for normalcy but cannot maintain it; and who, having traveled to the bottom of addiction, all the way to "society's hated mother," makes it back, only to discover she will always remain an outsider. Like her irreverent, hilarious, and unflinchingly honest blog, "Renegade Mothering," Hanchett's memoir speaks with warmth and wit to those who feel like outsiders in parenthood and life--calling out the rhetoric surrounding "the sanctity of motherhood" as tired and empty, boldly recounting instead how one grows to accept an imperfect self within an imperfect life--thinking, with great and final relief, "Well, I'll be damned, I'm just happy to be here."

30 review for I'm Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lea Grover

    When I got my ARC I was ridiculously excited to get started, and I devoured this book in a matter of hours. There is only one word that comes to mind just described "I'm Just Happy to Be Here": ruthless. This book is utterly ruthless. Janelle Hanchett isn't just writing about alcoholism and addiction and motherhood and insecurity and faithlessness and faithfulness and love and tragedy and loss and redemption, more than anything this is a book about ego and hubris, and humility. I'm not an alcoholic When I got my ARC I was ridiculously excited to get started, and I devoured this book in a matter of hours. There is only one word that comes to mind just described "I'm Just Happy to Be Here": ruthless. This book is utterly ruthless. Janelle Hanchett isn't just writing about alcoholism and addiction and motherhood and insecurity and faithlessness and faithfulness and love and tragedy and loss and redemption, more than anything this is a book about ego and hubris, and humility. I'm not an alcoholic, I've never struggled with addiction, and I've never felt so personally called out by a book in my life. So often while reading this book, I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as Janelle ruthlessly turned a viciously incisive eye to herself, because I felt it too. I felt the entitlements, and self-importance, and self-assurance that deep down I've always known is rooted in bullshit. And while this story is one that needs to be in the world for all the people who do struggle with addiction and alcoholism, it's a must-read for anyone who also struggles with the kind of self-imposed isolation of always being ready to say "I told you so," of always being sure you know what's best. Buy this God damn book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jena Henry

    Sometimes we read a book for fun, such as a book we take to the beach. Sometimes we choose a book because we are in the mood for something scary, or we like to solve mysteries, or we want to learn more about ancient China. And there are times that a book calls to us. "Read me so you can witness a life that seems so different from your own. So you can see what torment and suffering is. And so you can learn to love more." I'm Happy Just to be Here is a great title for a book written by a young woma Sometimes we read a book for fun, such as a book we take to the beach. Sometimes we choose a book because we are in the mood for something scary, or we like to solve mysteries, or we want to learn more about ancient China. And there are times that a book calls to us. "Read me so you can witness a life that seems so different from your own. So you can see what torment and suffering is. And so you can learn to love more." I'm Happy Just to be Here is a great title for a book written by a young woman who had lost her job, children, dignity, health, mind and respect, and almost her marriage. The memoir of her years as a drug addict is one of the hardest books I have ever read. Every page seems to bring unrelenting misery and hopelessness and horribleness. Fortunately, it has a pretty happy ending. And it's also fortunate that it is well written and contains gems such as If God only gave you the things you could handle, what would you need God for? One of the best parts of the story for me was when the author learned that her grandmother had written a newspaper column for young mothers, 70 years ago. As many readers know, these days author writes a successful blog about mothering. As a mother, this book was hard for me to read. "What if this had happened to my kids?" I kept thinking. But, this is a book worth reading, because it's a book about life. Highly recommend. Thanks to NetGalley and Hanchette Books for an ARC. Jena C. Henry, March 2018

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    Yo-yo-ing between bouts of sobriety & inebriation, but always depressed, Janelle is loud with hints of Janet Capron’s wild side and the harsh but oft sarcastic tones of Myriam Gurba. Here's a stellar self-deprecating memoir of mistakes while growing up, struggling under postpartum grief, and holding on to oneself (or not) while becoming/being a mother. Janelle’s stark skepticism, her innate ability to question everything (especially when religious leaders don’t have answers)— was highly appe Yo-yo-ing between bouts of sobriety & inebriation, but always depressed, Janelle is loud with hints of Janet Capron’s wild side and the harsh but oft sarcastic tones of Myriam Gurba. Here's a stellar self-deprecating memoir of mistakes while growing up, struggling under postpartum grief, and holding on to oneself (or not) while becoming/being a mother. Janelle’s stark skepticism, her innate ability to question everything (especially when religious leaders don’t have answers)— was highly appealing. Like she mentions several times about not having a place in any of the various existing categories of "mother", her admissions give me hope for the day I choose to have children, knowing that it's possible to not be a good mom while being a good mom, and it's ok to not love everything that's involved with parenting because, thank god it's finally out: PARENTING IS HARD and not (always) a joy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was fortunate to read an advance copy of I'm Just Happy to Be Here. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and wickedly funny book. Janelle's is a coming of age story but also coming of family and coming of hope. I read this book in one sitting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    I am not a former drug addict. I am not a recovering alcoholic. I also don't have four kids. But somehow this book resonated with me on so many levels. Having known Janelle since 2010, and having been a reader of her blog, Renegade Mothering, since its inception, I'm used to her blunt, often abrasive language. And that's one of the reasons I love reading her work--blog, Facebook post, or otherwise. She tells it like it is and it's refreshing. This book is reminiscent of her blog, but less in-your I am not a former drug addict. I am not a recovering alcoholic. I also don't have four kids. But somehow this book resonated with me on so many levels. Having known Janelle since 2010, and having been a reader of her blog, Renegade Mothering, since its inception, I'm used to her blunt, often abrasive language. And that's one of the reasons I love reading her work--blog, Facebook post, or otherwise. She tells it like it is and it's refreshing. This book is reminiscent of her blog, but less in-your-face. Let's be clear: this isn't an "I got clean and you can too and here's how!" kind of memoir. It's the story of a woman who, despite so many things, managed to pull herself out of the deepest of pits. If you'll let me be cliche for a moment--she had nowhere to go but up. She also had help from her family, which many don't. It was an ugly journey; one that is hard to tell people about. She tells us things that many would never EVER admit to, and that's part of what makes this book so heart-wrenching. There have not been many books in my life (if any) that have made me ugly cry, complete with snot running down my face. This book broke through my stony heart and made me feel so many things. The love of family, the desperation and heartbreak of losing them, and somehow finding the strength to change herself for the better. I have a feeling that this book will end up on a bestseller list. Janelle writes in such a way that, no matter who you are, you get where she's coming from. You can relate. Shit gets real--literally--and she brings you right into her head. It's a messy place that I'll never completely understand, but it gave me a better idea of what addicts go through. I can't say enough good stuff about this book. It will make you laugh and then ugly cry in the span of five pages. If you haven't already, pre-order this. Buy a copy for yourself, one for your best friend, one for your mailman, etc. https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/tit...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ada

    SHE DID IT! Seriously I was waiting for this ever since I found her blog.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy Smith

    I had the privilege of receiving an advance reader copy of this book and devoured it in three days. It is different than what I expected. Janelle is humorous and irreverent and sometimes even aggressive on her blog renegademothering.com, and that is why many of us fell in love with her writing and her online persona. But this book delves deep into her past and her mind and her addiction. It is delicate at times and raucous at others but it carries us through her journey in a beautiful and heartb I had the privilege of receiving an advance reader copy of this book and devoured it in three days. It is different than what I expected. Janelle is humorous and irreverent and sometimes even aggressive on her blog renegademothering.com, and that is why many of us fell in love with her writing and her online persona. But this book delves deep into her past and her mind and her addiction. It is delicate at times and raucous at others but it carries us through her journey in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. It is not a self help book, it is not a good mother’s guide to recovery. It is broken down and raw and searing and at turns it is joyful. It is a glimpse, no, a wide-eyed look into what makes us human. And whether you have suffered from mental illness, addiction, regret or simply have wondered at how difficult life can be some days, this book will make you look at things just a little bit differently. I finished it last week and it hasn’t left me. The images Janelle painted and the people she brought to us have stayed at the surface of my mind. I’m going to read parts again so I can keep them a little bit longer. Please read this book, buy it for your friend or your mother or your husband. It needs to be out there in the world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephany Snell

    I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Copy of ‘I’m Just Happy To Be Here’ by Janelle Hanchett which is a brutally honest, raw and uncut story of the author’s struggles with addiction and mental illness and just plain adulting. She holds nothing back as she lays out her biggest mistakes and deepest regrets for us all to see and takes us down to the bottom while some how managing to still be relatable. I admit, I’m a sucker for a good hot mess story but, I think, what sets ‘I’m Just Happy To B I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Copy of ‘I’m Just Happy To Be Here’ by Janelle Hanchett which is a brutally honest, raw and uncut story of the author’s struggles with addiction and mental illness and just plain adulting. She holds nothing back as she lays out her biggest mistakes and deepest regrets for us all to see and takes us down to the bottom while some how managing to still be relatable. I admit, I’m a sucker for a good hot mess story but, I think, what sets ‘I’m Just Happy To Be Here’ apart from other stories I’ve read is the author’s keen self awareness and her ability to take us in to her brain so that we really see what and how she was thinking rather than just scoffing at the actions that occurred as a result. I really enjoyed that different perspective and found myself feeling so connected to her that I sought out her blog because I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vikki Reich

    This book is one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. Not only in the story compelling, but the writing is beautiful. Though this is a book about addiction and motherhood, it goes beyond that to the universal struggles we all face - finding our place in the world, figuring out who we are, being accountable for our flaws and mistakes, and learning to embrace the hard parts of life with as much grace as we do the easy parts. This book has stayed with me long after I finished it. This quot This book is one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. Not only in the story compelling, but the writing is beautiful. Though this is a book about addiction and motherhood, it goes beyond that to the universal struggles we all face - finding our place in the world, figuring out who we are, being accountable for our flaws and mistakes, and learning to embrace the hard parts of life with as much grace as we do the easy parts. This book has stayed with me long after I finished it. This quote in particular has stuck with me: "I supposed some of us don’t have the luxury of neatly wrapped truth, of affirmations that rest on our tongues like peppermints. Some of us need to be doused in gasoline and set aflame, until the truth consumes us, and we have no choice but to recreate ourselves.” Yes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carli Hess

    I needed this book. I didn't realize it, but I did. I needed its candor and darkness, its humor and shock, and most especially its sheer humanity. I am convinced that there is a piece of Janelle's story in all of us as mothers, daughters, addicts, and lovers of addicts. There were so many moments that I lost my breath and had to reread the line I had just read because I could have written it. There is something so healing in realizing that you are just not alone. I am not an addict, but addictio I needed this book. I didn't realize it, but I did. I needed its candor and darkness, its humor and shock, and most especially its sheer humanity. I am convinced that there is a piece of Janelle's story in all of us as mothers, daughters, addicts, and lovers of addicts. There were so many moments that I lost my breath and had to reread the line I had just read because I could have written it. There is something so healing in realizing that you are just not alone. I am not an addict, but addiction has played such a central role in my life that I feel like I may as well be. Janelle helped me to cross over that line of understanding and see things in a way that I hadn't before. I could see the helplessness and pain of the people in my life that I've held so dear, and that I've had no choice but to help carry through their darkest days. She freely invites us into her darkest moments as an addict and we know that it was her reality every single day. A reality that doesn't just disappear when the alcohol does. She is so honest about that. As a mother, I have so many of those moments that I just want to apologize to my children for being all I can offer to them, while at the same time being amazed that I get the privilege of getting to help them make it through this phase of their lives. Janelle gets that, and put it into words for me. Because of the knowledge that I really am not alone in these miserable thoughts I sometimes have, I felt I could breathe out this breath of fear I had been holding in since the first time I felt frustration at my newborn baby son. The incredible love that Janelle has for her children is only rivaled by the all too real feelings of loss of self, boredom, frustration and pain. That is the truth of being a parent, and she wrote it down!! Hallelujah for that. I, for one, desperately needed to hear it. This is a book about compassion, pain, and love. Things that every single one of us have experienced. I have absolutely no doubt that this book will resonate with you in some very real way. If you've haven't pre-ordered it yet, do so now. You will not regret it. https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/tit...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Rosenberg

    I knew nothing of Janelle’s story until now, but have become inspired by how she made it through and emerged in a place of love, honesty and gritty humor. All I know now is that I must find a “Good News Jack” in my life! This book gave me a lot more perspective on my family, sobriety and all of our journeys to find love and know ourselves, warts and all. I would recommend it to anyone who could use a good kick towards introspection and want to hear a story of real survival, but want the real ver I knew nothing of Janelle’s story until now, but have become inspired by how she made it through and emerged in a place of love, honesty and gritty humor. All I know now is that I must find a “Good News Jack” in my life! This book gave me a lot more perspective on my family, sobriety and all of our journeys to find love and know ourselves, warts and all. I would recommend it to anyone who could use a good kick towards introspection and want to hear a story of real survival, but want the real version, not a self-help book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    I love Janelle’s blog and was excited to get an advance copy of her book. It did not disappoint. Her journey is an amazing story filled with sorrow and hope and desperation and thankfully there is joy too. Her writing is honest and sincere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Grace O'Connor

    Janelle Hanchett’s I’m Just Happy to Be Here is an affecting, heart-breaking story of addiction and the familial ties that somehow manage to simultaneously constrict and save us. It is an unflinching account of a new mother’s plummet into drug and alcohol addiction. Hanchett’s memoir is most arresting when she writes the awful truth of parenting while addicted. She describes her efforts to deliver her five-year old daughter, Ava, to a birthday party. ““Hey, Ava, let’s pick something out of your Janelle Hanchett’s I’m Just Happy to Be Here is an affecting, heart-breaking story of addiction and the familial ties that somehow manage to simultaneously constrict and save us. It is an unflinching account of a new mother’s plummet into drug and alcohol addiction. Hanchett’s memoir is most arresting when she writes the awful truth of parenting while addicted. She describes her efforts to deliver her five-year old daughter, Ava, to a birthday party. ““Hey, Ava, let’s pick something out of your closet to give to your friend, and I will buy you another one tomorrow, I promise. We will go tomorrow. Is that okay? Can we do that?’ My words run together in idiotic cocaine excitement.” Her daughter agrees, and in her daughter’s closet, Hanchett settles on a silk rainbow streamer “because they went to a Montessori school and that would be a good hippie gift.” "‘How about this?’ I asked. ‘Can we give her this?’ I held it up and tried to smile. ‘Okay, Mama,’ Ava said. She didn’t even look disappointed. She didn’t even look at me like I was shoving all my words together or stinking of cigarette smoke or scratching scabs on my shins because I couldn’t stop picking." After delivering her daughter to the party, Hanchett returns to her car and does a line of cocaine on the back of a CD case. Hanchett’s memoir is an emotional gut-punch underscoring the reality that addiction is a disease, not a choice. No one who has ever planned and hosted a child’s birthday party would choose to do so while coming of a two-and-a-half-day coke binge, as Hanchett did for her son Rocket’s first birthday. I jest, perhaps inappropriately so, but humor is a constant thread in Hanchett’s memoir. On one occasion, Hanchett calls her eventual sponsor, a man she calls Good News Jack. "One day, when the gleeful dust of new sobriety had settled, I was trying to make Ava and Rocket sandwiches but was somehow failing. I stood in my mother’s kitchen behind a cutting board, stating at bread and turkey, feeling like I might explode from restlessness. I told the kids I’d be right back and went outside to call Good News Jack. ‘I just feel like shit, Jack. I do not feel ‘good’ at all.’ I was angry and accusatory, as if his sobriety plan had already let me down. Without hesitation, answered. ‘I never promised you’d feel good. I promised you you’d never have to drink again.’ . . . ‘What the hell are you doing right now anyway?’ he asked. ‘I was supposed to make the kids lunch, but I freaked out.’ ‘Go fucking make them lunch and stop thinking about yourself.’ Then he hung up on me." Hanchett’s humor is as much a coping strategy as anything else, and her eventual launch of a parenting blog that is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking provides a path to the sense of self Hanchett spends much of her memoir searching for. But her identity is as much daughter and granddaughter as it is writer, wife and mother, and great care is paid to her relationships with her parents and grandparents. In one particularly painful scene, Hanchett describes the good-bye she never had with a beloved grandmother who died when Hanchett was at her sickest. As humans and as communities, we learn by looking pain in the face with honesty. Hanchett’s beautiful and brave memoir invites us to stare at her pain—and her triumph—in the hope that we may find a much-needed life-line, or offer one to those most dear to us.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jen Hamilton

    I'm Just Happy to Be Here is so much more than an addiction memoir and a story of motherhood. It's not about how to achieve happiness or reaching some end point. It's not just for drunks or moms or drunk moms. It's for all of us. The book begins as a love story and really remains a love story throughout, if only you adjust your expectations of what a love story is. And adjusting expectations is really what this book is about. With incredibly raw candor and humor, Hanchett takes us through her jo I'm Just Happy to Be Here is so much more than an addiction memoir and a story of motherhood. It's not about how to achieve happiness or reaching some end point. It's not just for drunks or moms or drunk moms. It's for all of us. The book begins as a love story and really remains a love story throughout, if only you adjust your expectations of what a love story is. And adjusting expectations is really what this book is about. With incredibly raw candor and humor, Hanchett takes us through her journey into the cringe-worthy bottom of addiction and back up, where she finds herself still struggling daily, still bored. If you've ever gotten to that place you wanted to be (married, dream job, homeowner, whatever) and still found that life is often hard, boring, and contradictory, then this book is for you. This is a story that embraces ambiguity, paradox, and the unknown like nothing I've ever read before. It also beautifully portrays the role of music, place, and connection--to our friends, families, and unexpected allies--in each of our lives. Order a copy for yourself, and then send one to a friend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Kho

    What a read. Janelle's searingly honest, unflinching memoir of her life as an addict, a mom, the dark period of her life where those two roles collided, and her hard, courageous slog out is riveting. She unites self-awareness with deep, informed compassion for anyone who's gone through addiction struggles, and especially for the parents trying to be there for their children while fighting their demons. "I'm Just Happy To Be Here" is beautiful writing, and a story that will linger long past the f What a read. Janelle's searingly honest, unflinching memoir of her life as an addict, a mom, the dark period of her life where those two roles collided, and her hard, courageous slog out is riveting. She unites self-awareness with deep, informed compassion for anyone who's gone through addiction struggles, and especially for the parents trying to be there for their children while fighting their demons. "I'm Just Happy To Be Here" is beautiful writing, and a story that will linger long past the final page.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Scottie Vosburgh

    I am not typically a reader of "mommy blogs", though I have followed Janelle's blog, Renegade Mothering, for years. I have always loved that she says what lots of us are feeling about parenthood. She knows what is feels like to love your children with ever fiber of your being and also be deeply annoyed, inconvenienced and disappointed about motherhood (plus she says the "F" word a lot and I can appreciate that when discussing offspring). I'm Just Happy to Be Here chronicles Janelle's journey to I am not typically a reader of "mommy blogs", though I have followed Janelle's blog, Renegade Mothering, for years. I have always loved that she says what lots of us are feeling about parenthood. She knows what is feels like to love your children with ever fiber of your being and also be deeply annoyed, inconvenienced and disappointed about motherhood (plus she says the "F" word a lot and I can appreciate that when discussing offspring). I'm Just Happy to Be Here chronicles Janelle's journey to emotional wholeness. It is DEEP and reveals pieces of a soul on a quest to help someone...somewhere...someday. The stories of the pull and power of addiction as well the desperation and desire to heal are riveting, educational and profoundly moving- if you are not teary by the end of this book, you have no heart. I consider this ARC a gift I will treasure and I ended this book wanting more and more, feeling sad it was over, and jealous that she was blessed enough to find someone as truthful as Good Time Jack. I have so many passages underlined and plan to print them out on signs around my home to remind me I am not the only one and it's not crazy to feel the way I do... the way WE do.... thank you Janelle.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Hanley

    I have followed the blog, @renegademothering, written by this book’s author, Janelle Hanchett, for several years now, and have found it to be a delight in its refusal to accept tired cliches about being a parent, even or especially to the point where she invites her readers to join her in “the fight against helpful parenting advice.” I mean, to my mind how can you not love an author who is that willing to call BS when she sees or hears it? And the fact that it does so in explicitly profane terms I have followed the blog, @renegademothering, written by this book’s author, Janelle Hanchett, for several years now, and have found it to be a delight in its refusal to accept tired cliches about being a parent, even or especially to the point where she invites her readers to join her in “the fight against helpful parenting advice.” I mean, to my mind how can you not love an author who is that willing to call BS when she sees or hears it? And the fact that it does so in explicitly profane terms with liberal usage of the f-bomb along the way helps not a little in terms of the blog’s most appealing quality, at least to this humble reader — its deployment of voice in service of meaning. And so, along with a large percentage of her readership, I warrant, I approached this book with its focus on addiction and recovery with some trepidation. Would it slip into the tired cliches of 12-step programs, in the process undermining the very attributes that I admired so much in her blog? In other words, would I have the respect for her work as book length product that I’d had for it in blog form? Well, I see now that I need not have worried as “I’m Just Happy To Be Here” is a fiercely argued, cunningly structured piece of intellectual as well as emotional property. We see the fierceness of its argumentation at any number of points in the text — its lucid evocation of the moment when she decided she wanted to live after all comes to mind as do the pages in which she enters and then deftly exits the thicket of the role of a higher power in her survival. The cunning with which the text is structured is perhaps most on display in her clearly editorial choice to place the chapter in which she comes to terms with the role of her childhood difficulties in her adult struggles after the darkest moments of the text, so as not to imply a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy in which childhood trauma causes her later drinking. In fact, if there is a takeaway from this book, it has to do with the apparent randomness with which those who are stricken with The Disease suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives and how equally random the universe seems to be in picking “winners” and so how totally blessed she feels to be one who lived to tell the tale to the point where she got to make a book of it titled “I’m Just Happy To Be Here.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Jankowski

    So, I really want to write something profound and meaningful that expresses how I feel about this book, about Janelle's story. I want to use exactly the right words that evoke exactly the right emotion, and leave no detail out, but truthfully? I'm having a hard time. Because how do you review someone's life? The bravery it takes to share the ugly underbelly of broken mental health and addiction and abandoning one's own children? This story is a gut-punch because it's so true. It's raw, and if yo So, I really want to write something profound and meaningful that expresses how I feel about this book, about Janelle's story. I want to use exactly the right words that evoke exactly the right emotion, and leave no detail out, but truthfully? I'm having a hard time. Because how do you review someone's life? The bravery it takes to share the ugly underbelly of broken mental health and addiction and abandoning one's own children? This story is a gut-punch because it's so true. It's raw, and if you're not ready for honesty to stare you in the face, you're not ready for this book. I've read other reviews and people are actually upset with how "vanilla" Janelle's life was prior to falling into the abyss and to that I can only say: THAT'S THE POINT. Mental health issues and addiction aren't exclusive; there is no poster child for bipolar disorder or postpartum depression or cocaine addiction. Janelle could be any one of us--or any one of our family members or friends. The difference between the rest and Janelle is that she's telling her story instead of rotting in the ground because of it. Rosemary carrots. Motherhood fails. Rehab. Windshield wipers. Whiskey benders. Water births like the sunrise. Abandoning your children. Good News Jack. Homelessness. Redemption. Dissatisfaction. Honesty. Love, loss. The dark humor juxtaposed with the severity of Janelle's situation made me laugh, then feel bad for laughing. I held on to the little glimpses of hope the way I imagine she and her family did, only to be fooled again and again by the ruse of sobriety. Even on the other side of addiction, she embodies this restlessness many of us have experienced in early Motherhood, and she doesn't apologize for wanting MORE. She loves her children and while she can finally delight in the seemingly small, like parent-teacher conferences, she makes no apology for lusting after intellectual stimulation, five minutes to herself, or a break from the monotony. What begins as a story like any of ours, morphs into something straight out of the movies, and eventually rounds out the edges, but make no mistake: the edges are still there. A straight-talker, no-bullshitter, Janelle writes her blog in the same way. I highly recommend both Renegade Mothering and I'm Just Happy to Be Here if for no other reason than to read a woman who has been to the black, found her way home, and somehow continues to make us laugh as she exposes her darkest moments and most frightening thoughts. (I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of the book--it's not for sale until May, but you can--and should--preorder your copy today!)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Much of Janelle Hanchett’s life is foreign to me. I’ve never stepped foot in California and this book is, in small part, a love letter to it. I’m not an addict and this is her memoir of addiction. I visited Europe as an adolescent, but the most scandalous thing I did while there was to sneak into a room with the kids from Georgia, where I did nothing “wrong,” while Hanchett’s adventures in foreign countries told within were much more colorful. I’m listening to Grateful Dead for the first time in Much of Janelle Hanchett’s life is foreign to me. I’ve never stepped foot in California and this book is, in small part, a love letter to it. I’m not an addict and this is her memoir of addiction. I visited Europe as an adolescent, but the most scandalous thing I did while there was to sneak into a room with the kids from Georgia, where I did nothing “wrong,” while Hanchett’s adventures in foreign countries told within were much more colorful. I’m listening to Grateful Dead for the first time in my life while I write this review, and well, you’ll have to read the book. And yet, I could not put this book down, save a short pause to chew and digest some of its more harrowing portions. I’ve been a reader of her blog for years but this book was like Hanchett chose to strip bare, naked and demanded a spotlight be shown on her while she beautifully rage screamed her story. I wanted to be able to reach through the pages of the book, place a soft hand on her knee and say, “Oh honey…” like an angel nurse. Motherhood brings foggy yet chaotic, slow yet constant, awe-filled yet mundane days. We don’t have to be perfect or fit in or do everything right. But damn if it isn’t our ride to go on, to find what we might experience along the way, hopefully with a fraction of the growth Hanchett shows us. Pretty and gritty and pretty gritty.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nona

    Unbelievable that author Janelle Hanchett was able to come out on the other side of her addictions, but she did. Fascinating memoir of her addiction, quest for sobriety and ability to pull her family back together. Janelle also has the website Renegade Mothering - more of her honest writing! Hard to read and to put down.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Giles

    I've been following Janelle's blog, renegademothering.com, for years. When I heard she had a book coming out, I was patiently-ish waiting the release date. And then I got my hands on an advance reader copy, so I did not have to pretend to be patient anymore. I read the book in just a couple of days. And if you have small kids at home, you'll totally understand why that is quite the accomplishment. Side note: if you have small kids at home, you'll probably love this book. Unless you're the type of I've been following Janelle's blog, renegademothering.com, for years. When I heard she had a book coming out, I was patiently-ish waiting the release date. And then I got my hands on an advance reader copy, so I did not have to pretend to be patient anymore. I read the book in just a couple of days. And if you have small kids at home, you'll totally understand why that is quite the accomplishment. Side note: if you have small kids at home, you'll probably love this book. Unless you're the type of person who has pristine white couches and never worries about things like spills. If someone was asked to describe this book in one word, I imagine most other someones would say, "addiction" (though I did just type "addition," which it is most definitely not about). It's about Janelle and her addiction, yes. But it's also about losing and nearly losing everything that matters. It's about parenting when even "less than perfect" is a bar that feels out of reach. And yes, it's dark and gritty. It's sad. Hilarious. Sometimes you'll find yourself laughing at something and feel fairly sure you're going straight to hell for finding it funny. Look, I'm depressed* as f*ck right now and I still came over here to leave this review, because I want everyone to read it. Except the white couch lady. (*side effects of this book do not include depression, I had to buy that separately)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rita Arens

    Janelle's story is a shocker, both for its rock-bottom and for its normal. I volunteered to be on the launch team for her memoir, I'M JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE, because after putting out a book about mental illness myself, I get how scary that is. Not only are you sort of laying yourself bare as a writer, you're exposing to the Instagram world what mental illness really feels like. Janelle's story is one of addiction and recovery, but I recognized in her writing a lot of the same rage I've felt at t Janelle's story is a shocker, both for its rock-bottom and for its normal. I volunteered to be on the launch team for her memoir, I'M JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE, because after putting out a book about mental illness myself, I get how scary that is. Not only are you sort of laying yourself bare as a writer, you're exposing to the Instagram world what mental illness really feels like. Janelle's story is one of addiction and recovery, but I recognized in her writing a lot of the same rage I've felt at times in my life and the same mental pain that is so severe it feels physical. What I've always admired about Janelle's writing: Her beautiful sentences. While I feel confident she could turn the mundane details of life into art, she's got some pretty compelling material to work with, and the result is truly important writing. A few of my favorite quotes: I signed my daughter out, chatted with the receptionist, held my girl's hand to the car to make sure she was safe, and all these actions felt like tiny miracles. I gave the death glare to the woman when I saw her in the parking lot, because I was sober, not Jesus. But then I would think of the inhumanity of my former life, of the morning I woke up and realized I could not exist among humankind, of the day I couldn't use the restroom properly, of the day I woke up alone in a hospital bed, and the day I spoke in the cracked dialects of the wholly insane, and I'd think, I am only human, and that is precisely the miracle. And then, most disturbing of all, I got sober and realized I was still an asshole. I got sober and realized I still hurt people. I even resolved my childhood issues, and I'm still fucking bored. My story wasn't untrue. It was simply unsustainable. When I finished reading the book, I thought about all the ways everyone tries to self-medicate when we're still bored. I'm reading THE SHALLOWS right now, which is about how the Internet is affecting our brain circuitry and making it harder to focus. As pissed as I am at Louis CK right now, his ditty on how we can't stand to be alone with ourselves for even five minutes still deeply resonates. We joke about needing chocolate or a glass of wine or a Xanax, but not about another Oxy or some heroin, because dude, that is a serious problem. But isn't the real problem that we're bored? Janelle is no different from you or me: I've met her. She was making jokes and swigging water and wearing a baby. When I was unemployed, I avoided talking about it too much with people because I'd see the fear in their eyes that what happened to me might happen to them. I remember Stacy Morrison writing in her book about how her friends acted as if divorce was catching. What's truly terrifying about others' misfortunes is how easily they could happen to us. What's amazing is that whatever misfortune befalls us, we can be resilient. It might take a try or twelve. It might take Good News Jack to overcome our three a.m. bad ideas. It might take getting over our egos or our childhoods or learning to sit with the shitty as well as the sublime. I've given all this a lot of thought in the past year with the lay-off and the cancer. Sitting with shitty is really hard. Learning to be more resilient is really hard. Janelle has given us a gift with her honesty. We can't understand true resilience without seeing the bottom and hearing the mental monologue. This book is that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leah Colby

    This is NOT the book I thought it was going to be. Yes, there are parenting parts that we can relate to, however, this is about her gut wrenching journey with addiction, alcoholism and her ego driven ride that tells her “I’ve got this all under control”. She takes you by the hand and dives into her self-created hell and makes you feel the regret, the shame and desperation. Janelle takes the word vulnerable and puts it in ALL CAPS. I kept thinking to myself “she did not just do that”, and then “o This is NOT the book I thought it was going to be. Yes, there are parenting parts that we can relate to, however, this is about her gut wrenching journey with addiction, alcoholism and her ego driven ride that tells her “I’ve got this all under control”. She takes you by the hand and dives into her self-created hell and makes you feel the regret, the shame and desperation. Janelle takes the word vulnerable and puts it in ALL CAPS. I kept thinking to myself “she did not just do that”, and then “oh yes she did”. She is fierce, she is a badass and she so honestly owns her story. Just wow Janelle. Wait til Brene Brown and Oprah get a hold of this book if they haven’t already.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keli

    This is the heart-breakingly beautiful story of motherhood through the messiness and disasters of alcoholism. It's the hero's journey that is hitting rock bottom and realizing that no one is going to save you except yourself, it is a memoir of "recklessness, rehab, and renegade mothering." It is balm for the soul and a reminder of our solidarity as women and mothers and humans in this messy life. Here's an example of why I am in love with the way Janelle Hanchett writes: "I suppose some of us don' This is the heart-breakingly beautiful story of motherhood through the messiness and disasters of alcoholism. It's the hero's journey that is hitting rock bottom and realizing that no one is going to save you except yourself, it is a memoir of "recklessness, rehab, and renegade mothering." It is balm for the soul and a reminder of our solidarity as women and mothers and humans in this messy life. Here's an example of why I am in love with the way Janelle Hanchett writes: "I suppose some of us don't have the luxury of neatly wrapped truth, of affirmations that rest on our tongue like peppermints. Some of us need to be doused in gasoline and set aflame, until the truth consumes us, and we have no choice but to recreate ourselves. A collision, as Baldwin says, when one must choose to live or die. "I didn't want to feel better. I wanted to live. "I didn't want the pain gone. I wanted it to mean something. "When I found my voice, I didn't find answers--I found a purpose for every moment I had lived. I found power in every blackened room in my mind, every fear, every sad parent, every futile word and nightmare memory. "Because it led me to you, to the place where we are the same, to the place where words draw a line from my bones to yours, and you look at me and say, 'I know,' and I look back at you, thinking, Well, I'll be damned. I guess we've been here together all along." Not only is it an awesome book, it is brand-spanking new--you can get multiple copies--for yourself, your mom, your sister, your girlfriends--and get the word out about this beautiful work of love. You'll make your loved ones happy, and you'll help put an incredible rising author in a place where even more people will here her voice.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abbie Burkhart

    This book resonates. It resonates if you're a mom or an addict or your sister is an addict or if, when you listen to The Dead and Dylan, you feel that feeling deep in your soul. It's resonates if you're a human being with feelings (or a human being without feelings but they're really there, they're just buried down deep). It resonates if you've been to therapy or you've had a trauma or you've created a trauma in someone else. This is a story of triumph but not your average fail once or twice, ge This book resonates. It resonates if you're a mom or an addict or your sister is an addict or if, when you listen to The Dead and Dylan, you feel that feeling deep in your soul. It's resonates if you're a human being with feelings (or a human being without feelings but they're really there, they're just buried down deep). It resonates if you've been to therapy or you've had a trauma or you've created a trauma in someone else. This is a story of triumph but not your average fail once or twice, get back up, triumph story. It's about every day just showing up the best you know how in that moment. It's about evolution. It's about becoming. And it's f-ing brilliant.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    This is truly a fantastic read! One of those books that, once you pick it up, you just don't want to put it down. I laughed, I cried, the writing is fantastic. I would recommend this book to women & mothers & people in recovery - but also, people who feel connected to the human condition of being alive & how we are all just trying to find our way through this thing called life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Burnett

    Janelle’s account of the road to the bottom of alcoholism and the life that comes after is not only compelling but brutally honest. The moments she describes in the darkest places are palatable and transformative. The beautiful life she has built out of the ruins of addiction is infinitely inspiring. As a seasoned reader of her blog the stories were familiar but I found myself falling in love with the people in her stories all over again. The power of losing your ego and the strength you can fin Janelle’s account of the road to the bottom of alcoholism and the life that comes after is not only compelling but brutally honest. The moments she describes in the darkest places are palatable and transformative. The beautiful life she has built out of the ruins of addiction is infinitely inspiring. As a seasoned reader of her blog the stories were familiar but I found myself falling in love with the people in her stories all over again. The power of losing your ego and the strength you can find is beaming off the pages. I look forward to sharing this with every person I can, regardless of place on the spectrum in life anyone can find a kinship in her utter truth. This writing has changed my life and I’m forever indebted to this great work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    As a follower of Renegade Mothering I couldn't have been more excited to receive an advanced reader copy for her memoir. I'm Just Happy to Be Here is a sad, yet beautiful telling of Janelle's journey through addiction and the amazing resiliency of her family while she attempts to become sober. At times it was really hard to read because it felt so hopeless, but you couldn't stop hoping there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. It was very interesting to hear more of the backdrop story to As a follower of Renegade Mothering I couldn't have been more excited to receive an advanced reader copy for her memoir. I'm Just Happy to Be Here is a sad, yet beautiful telling of Janelle's journey through addiction and the amazing resiliency of her family while she attempts to become sober. At times it was really hard to read because it felt so hopeless, but you couldn't stop hoping there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. It was very interesting to hear more of the backdrop story to have a better understanding of her blog. All in all it was a very eye opening memoir to addictions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    The Book Girl (Andrea)

    I will start this by saying that I am rarely a reader of "mommy blogs", though I have followed Janelle's blog, Renegade Mothering, for years. I was excited when I got an advanced copy of her book. This book is just so intense. It is gripping, tragic, and it is entirely beautiful. Author Janelle Hanchett isn't just writing about addiction, alcoholism, and motherhood. She is also talking about love and tragedy, faithlessness and faithfulness, loss and redemption. This book tells the story of overc I will start this by saying that I am rarely a reader of "mommy blogs", though I have followed Janelle's blog, Renegade Mothering, for years. I was excited when I got an advanced copy of her book. This book is just so intense. It is gripping, tragic, and it is entirely beautiful. Author Janelle Hanchett isn't just writing about addiction, alcoholism, and motherhood. She is also talking about love and tragedy, faithlessness and faithfulness, loss and redemption. This book tells the story of overcoming your past and being all the better for it. "I supposed some of us don’t have the luxury of neatly wrapped truth, of affirmations that rest on our tongues like peppermints. Some of us need to be doused in gasoline and set aflame, until the truth consumes us, and we have no choice but to recreate ourselves.” I am not a former drug addict. I don't have any kids, let alone four but this book resonated with me in ways I never thought could be possible. This isn't the type of book that says, "I got clean and you can too and here's how!" This is just a book by a woman who is sharing her struggles in the hopes of helping someone else out. The author doesn't claim to have all the answers or that your journey will be like yours. This isn't a self-help book, its a memoir, and its damn good. "I signed my daughter out, chatted with the receptionist, held my girl's hand to the car to make sure she was safe, and all these actions felt like tiny miracles. I gave the death glare to the woman when I saw her in the parking lot, because I was sober, not Jesus." I read this book in one sitting. That is how I measure if a book is good or not. If I can't put the book down or stop thinking about it, then you know the book is pretty dang good. The writing is beautiful. Disclaimer: Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Books for an ARC.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Santorina

    It's been awhile since I read something that devastated me as much as this raw, beautiful book but here I am—recovering from the emotional trip that Janelle Hanchett took me on with her perfectly executed memoir. While the book takes a much more serious, introspective tone than her loyal followers have come to love on her wildly popular Renegade Mothering blog, I believe all reader— both seasoned and new fans alike— will undoubtedly find themselves falling in love with how well written, heartbre It's been awhile since I read something that devastated me as much as this raw, beautiful book but here I am—recovering from the emotional trip that Janelle Hanchett took me on with her perfectly executed memoir. While the book takes a much more serious, introspective tone than her loyal followers have come to love on her wildly popular Renegade Mothering blog, I believe all reader— both seasoned and new fans alike— will undoubtedly find themselves falling in love with how well written, heartbreakingly beautiful this story is. 
 Janelle has crafted something so much more than an account of her own addiction and the result is a book that anyone who is a woman, mother, daughter, wife or human can relate to. 
Despite the fact that I am not an addict myself, I found myself furiously highlighting an embarrassing amount of passages, nodding along at the universal truth of what it means to find your way in this wicked world. Janelle’s ability to cut right through the shit, straight to the heart of our ugliest truths is a refreshing change of pace in a world of over filtered mommy blogs and sugar coated addiction memoirs. If you are/were an addict, are the child of an addict, are married to or love yourself an addict: this book is for you. 

If you have ever yelled at your children until your throat hurt and then turned around and sobbed at the way their eyelashes touch their perfect cheeks just two hours later: this book is for you. 

If you have ever looked around at the life you are living and wondered how you ever signed on for something so mind numbingly boring: this book is for you. 

If you have ever stood in a crowd of people who are supposed to be your peers and felt completely and utterly alone: this book is for you. 

If there has ever been a time in your life where you are sure you’ve been too ugly and too horrid to ever be loved ever again: this book is for you Janelle Hanchette’s memoir is a love story, but not the one you’re used to. It is an ode to family and marriage and motherhood, but without filtering out the ugliest parts of it all. It is a raw reflection of addiction and a startling look at the lengths one goes to self destruct in search of the next high. But above all else, I’m Just Happy To Be Here is a story of coming home again and again and again and of the courage it takes to face your own bullshit straight on.

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