It’s a funny thing, how I came to read this book. I love Instagram – I follow people I know, bloggers, and a handful of celebrities (ok, quite a lot). One of these is the actor Busy Philipps, who I have always liked, but after following her on Instagram for over a year, I love her. I watch her Stories every day. Anyway, through her account I have also followed a few other people – like Jenny Mollen. I hadn’t actually heard of Jenny Mollen before seeing her on Instagram, but I am very glad I decided to follow her. Like Philipps she is frank and funny about life, and the trials and tribulations of family life and motherhood – and trying to retain your own sense of self amongst everything. I know that Busy Philipps is currently writing a book (which I am desperate to read!), and this lead me to discover that Jenny Mollen has published two books, the second of which is this one – Live Fast, Die Hot.
It’s kind of a ridiculous title, but after having read the book, I can see that it works. Jenny Mollen wants to have a crazy, brilliant life, and to be beautiful and sexy forever – that seems to be the gist of it. The crux of this book is the advent of marriage and motherhood in her life, two things that she didn’t feel grown-up enough for, but that she goes for with full force, something I really admire. I quite like that throughout the book Mollen retains her childlike-ness, her feeling that she is not mature enough for her own life, that she is still a child herself. It’s endearing and relatable, and reassuring to those of us who are just entering the marriage/grown-up/possible parenthood phase of life. Really none of us feel like we know what we are doing.
I have read a couple of slightly mean reviews of this book that label Mollen and/or the book as ‘desperate’ and that this is off-putting. I disagree with this completely. She is only ‘desperate’ in the way that we all are – desperate for happiness and love, for a good life, for fulfilment and pleasure. The thing I really like about Jenny Mollen, after reading this book, is that she completely acknowledges the fact that she is neurotic and just wants approval and to feel worthy. This is felt most keenly when she discusses wanting to be loved and ‘approved of’ by her infant son, that she wants to be an amazing mother and wants him to realise that she is an amazing mother. You could read this as selfish, but I read it as a deep desire to be a better person, to be the best mother she can, to do the best for her son – to make him happy and make sure he has a good life. And to make sure that she has a good life too.
Mollen also writes a lot about her mother and her family, and readily acknowledges and discusses the neuroses and scars of her childhood and adolescence, and how these affect her life now. The thing I loved most about this aspect of the book was her unfailing sense of humour and her willingness to just keep going and embrace life. That might sound corny, but there you go.
My main point is just that I really enjoyed this memoir. It is an amazing mix of crazy stories (like the infamous Morocco trip to see the ladies that make the rugs, which is still on her Instagram if you scroll back far enough), family drama, and adjusting to marriage and motherhood. I loved that Mollen and her husband (who just happens to be Jason Biggs) seem like such a perfect pair, both as narcissistic and neurotic as each other, and both with a sense of the absurdity of life, and that you always just have to find the humour in the situation. I mean, just the fact that on Jenny’s Twitter and Instagram bios, she describes herself as “Jason Bigg’s guest” tells you something about their attitude and sense of humour. Their life seems totally nuts and totally brilliant.
Anyway, Life Fast, Die Hot was an engaging and entertaining read, and a much-needed break from the more ‘serious’ books that I always seem to read. Definitely recommended if you want some fun. Also, I recommend looking at Jenny’s website as it has links to all her stuff, including some of her excellent articles for various publications. The one about miscarriage for Cosmopolitan became the first chapter of Live Fast, Die Hot, and is definitely worth a read for its frankness and heart.
Published in 2016 and 2017 (paperback) by Doubleday and Anchor. I read the 2017 paperback edition, pictured above.