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How to Avoid a Happy Life

How to Avoid a Happy Life

Author: Julia Lawrinson

Publisher: Fremantle Press

Published: April 2024

Startling, raw, and beautifully written, How to Avoid a Happy Life is the net result of Julia’s reconciliation with her life – fulfilling a last request from her mother – and it is a wild, sometimes urine-soaked and caffeine-fuelled ride.

Julia Lawrinson is a beloved and award-winning writer. How to Avoid a Happy Life is her first book for adults, and it takes the reader from Perth, Western Australia to an unfulfilled promise of California to a hostel in Melbourne, to hitching to Sydney and then bussing back to Perth.

This is a memoir that tackles plenty of relatable topics such as one-sided romantic relationships, queer sexuality and motherhood, all with non-judgemental good humour. There is a lovely bookend of reflections about the memorable Gwen, a complex mother impacted by intergenerational trauma. In the latter half, we delve into the Perth political scene – a world of which I have little knowledge but which I found unexpectedly compelling. This is not just due to the insights into a well-publicised scandal, but also, all the pomp and bells and whistles of Parliament House formalities.

Having walked in the author’s shoes across often rocky pavements for 343 pages, I couldn’t help, at the end of it, to wish for peace and happiness for Lawrinson and her family. Furthermore, I was left with a lingering reminder: You don’t know someone’s story by simply counting their accomplishments or looking at their smile.


Reviewed by Shannon Brie

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