Title: When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People
Author: Jeannie Gaffigan
Read by: Jeannie Gaffigan, Liz Noth, and a forward by Jim Gaffigan
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Length: Approximately 8 hours and 1 minute
Source: Overdrive through the Kewaunee Public Library
I somehow missed that this book came out, but luckily my friend Pam recommended it on Facebook. I really enjoy Jim Gaffigan’s humor. My husband and I have been to two of his stand up shows in Green Bay, I’ve read all of his books, and have listened to his albums. Indeed, I started listening to them again at the start of this troubling COVID time as laughter is the best medicine.
Laughter is the best medicine is the theme of When Life Gives You Pears. Jeannie is one half of the comedy duo, helping her husband write and put on shows and taking care of their five children. She is so busy taking care of them that it’s a shock one day when at a routine doctor appointment for her kids, she admits that she hasn’t been able to hear out of her ear for a while, which leads to her own doctor appointment, and a fast track to a brain tumor diagnosis. The tumor is the size of a pear. It’s a shocking diagnosis that she lives through with humor, faith, and love.
I loved this memoir. Jeannie had a great mix of humor with faith in her dire circumstances. It really makes you reevaluate what is important in life and it made me think about my life, children, and what is important as well. I loved how having read Jim’s novels, this is a look from the other side. I really loved learning how they met, started a relationship, and got married. I also really loved the perspective that as a strong artistic woman, Jeannie realized she would have to give up her dreams of fame on her own to be with Jim and that it would be a different life as his fame was already higher than hers at that point. I love that they were able to work together as a team on everything career, kids, and her health. As a Catholic, I also loved how she explored her faith in her journey as well.
The audiobook was very enjoyable. Jim Gaffigan wrote an introduction and narrated it himself. Liz Noth narrated the book until the point in the story after Jeannie’s surgery when her vocal cords were affected, and she didn’t speak the same anymore. Jeannie narrated the story from then on out. I really liked the effect that this had on the listening experience.
Overall, When Life Gives You Pears is a memoir that is a great mix of humor, faith, and family as the title lets you know. I really enjoyed it and would love to read more of Jeannie’s work in the future. I related to her as a woman and a mother. Her story was sad, but ultimately triumphant on how she was able to pull through with her family and community supporting her along the way.