Monday, June 6, 2016

It's OK to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort - #review

Twenty-seven-year-old Nora McInerny Purmort bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who once made Nora laugh so hard she pulled a muscle. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo. In the period that followed, Nora and Aaron packed fifty years of marriage into the three they got, spending their time on what really matters: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each other, and Beyoncé. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms. The obituary they wrote during Aaron’s hospice care revealing his true identity as Spider-Man touched the nation. With It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora puts a young, fresh twist on the subjects of mortality and resilience. What does it actually mean to live your “one wild and precious life” to the fullest? How can a joyful marriage contain more sickness than health? How do you keep going when life kicks you in the junk? In this deeply felt and deeply funny memoir, Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.

This book is for people who have been through some shit.

This is for people who aren’t sure if they’re saying or doing the right thing (you’re not, but nobody is). This is for people who had their life turned upside down and just learned to live that way. For people who have laughed at a funeral or cried in a grocery store. This is for everyone who wondered what exactly they’re supposed to be doing with their one wild and precious life. I don’t actually have the answer, but if you find out, will you text me?



There are many things we need to do better in our society.  One of those things is how we interact with people who have endured a devastating loss.  We are embarrassed, uncomfortable, and feel we don't know what do say or do to 'make things better'.  We are a species of 'fixers'...we want to be able to fix things...and when we cannot, we are at a loss.  Well, if you haven't figured it out already, some things cannot be 'fixed'.  Some holes can never be mended or filled in.  And maybe they shouldn't be.

I remember when my father passed in my senior year of high school.  (I was in a school play, "Lazarus Laughed" about Lazarus from the Bible.  The theme from what I could tell was 'there is no death'.  That was...awkward.)  In the 'before', we got at least a couple of supper invitations a month from church or my father's work or the neighborhood.  Afterwards I think we could count the invitations on the fingers of one of our hands for a year and have fingers left over.

It seems some people have to deal with more sorrow than others.  Nora McInerny Purmort is one such person.  She and her husband Aaron, got engaged after his rare brain cancer diagnosis.  They married and had a son, the cute little'un in the picture with the author.  Then, in the space of less than two months (?), Nora had a miscarriage, her father passed away and her husband passed away.  If anyone, this side of the cross had the right to utter, "My God!  My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me," I'd say it would be the author of this book.

She lays bare for readers her joys and sorrows, her wild life and her responsible side with both elating and heartbreaking reality.  Despite all the weight placed upon her shoulders in such a short space of time, Nora also acknowledges her blessings:  her adorable son, her supportive family and more.  She never had to worry about a roof over her head.  She wouldn't sink if she left her out of the home job for working from home.  That takes strength and class.

I got empathetically sad reading the book, but I'm an emotional person.  I remember with perfect clarity the afternoon my father died.  I remember where I was and can feel the same feelings from the time I got the voice mail message from my brother that our mother had passed.  And I'm ever so grateful that I got to fly to Utah to see her just weeks before.  My parting words to my mother?  "I love you, Mom.  God loves you."

I was a little confused to begin as to whether this was non-fiction or fiction.  Now I'm going to call it part autobiography, part memoir.  And it's ALL good.  I don't have all the answers on this one.  Neither does Nora (and she says that herself).  But in my opinion, she has 'an answer'.  And I think it could help other people experiencing their own losses - be the people women, men, people of color or not (?), or any other social metric.

Everyone will experience loss in their lives.  Everyone will deal with loss(es) in their own way (no cookie cutters on this one, folks).  What Nora lets us know in It's OK to Laugh is that no one will have to endure it alone.



Nora McInerny Purmort was voted Most Humorous by the Annunciation Catholic School Class of 1998. It was mostly downhill after that, but she did get to spend three glorious years married to Aaron Joseph Purmort (aka Spider-Man). Her work has appeared on,, and the Huffington Post, and in the Star Tribune. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her son, Ralph. They really like it there.

Find out more about Nora at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


 Click the button above to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of this title.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future book tours while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.)


  1. You're right, our society really doesn't know what to do/say when someone has a significant loss in their life. I hope as more memoirs come out like this, our collective wisdom will grow...

    Thanks for being on this tour!