Unabrow by Una LaMarche

When it’s my turn to pick a book to review at Great New Books. I feel pressure (self-inflicted) to choose something “serious” or “heavy,” something worthy of deep contemplation, or at least an emotional tear. It was for that reason that I almost didn’t want to share Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer by Una LaMarche, one of the most enjoyable essay collections I’ve read this year. Picking a book that was so fun and indulgent felt like cheating. But you know what? If a book that makes me laugh so hard that I have to read it with a tissue in my hand is not worth recommending to fellow book lovers, then I don’t know what is.

Unabrow is Tina Fey’s Bossypants meets Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) meets Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I’m not going to say that Unabrow is for every reader. The pop culture references sprinkled throughout each essay will most likely appeal most strongly to readers born in the late 70s and early 80s. Even the author’s biography at the front end of the book made me laugh and recognize myself and my generation.

“Una LaMarche is a writer and unaccredited Melrose Place historian who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and hoard of vintage Sassy Magazines. She is the author of two young adult novels, Five Summer and Like No Other, and remains a member in good standing of the Baby-sitters Club Fan Club. Lena Dunham once favorited one of her tweets.”

LaMarche writes in that style throughout her memoir-in-essays. There are flashes of seriousness about body image, eating disorders, and more, surrounded by subtle smirks and laugh-out-loud humor that made it impossible for me to read Unabrow while my husband was trying to fall asleep.

In stand-alone essays, we hear about LaMarche’s childhood with–no surprise from the title–a unibrow. We hear about her perception of herself as a late bloomer in the friend-making skills, having sex, and learning to drive, which did not happen until she was 25. We also get LaMarche’s opinions on trendy diets, how to use public bathrooms, and modern parenthood.

One of my favorite sections of Unabrow is a short piece called, “An Open Letter to Rompers” where LaMarche manages to say everything I’ve been thinking but with infinitely more astute and humorous points. “When are you planning on leaving?” LaMarche asks the romper. “It’s been six years now. Will you not rest until every American woman has to get fully naked in order to use the bathroom? Until babyGap is forced to expand its ‘onesies’ section to include plus sizes?”

I could have quoted many of Una LaMarche’s essays as examples of observations I found humorous and flat out true. I recommend Unabrow for a fun, quick read and for its smart humor. Enjoy!


Nina is a columnist at The HerStories Project and Tcjewfolk.com, and a contributing writer at Kveller.com. Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, Writerunboxed.com, and elsewhere. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines, and she loved participating in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother. Nina lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

Blog: http://ninabadzin.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/NinaBadzin Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NinaBadzinBlog


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