In my gay opinion, Jenifer Lewis is a diva and a “double D cup diva” at that, by her own admission. Back in 2018, I went to my first Jenifer Lewis book event for “The Mother Of Black Hollywood,” which was so memorable that I was thrilled when Barnes & Noble Union Square in New York City was a stop on her newest book tour for “Walking In My Joy.” A Jenifer Lewis book discussion isn’t your grandmother’s book club meeting.
There’s no script or set agenda and you have no idea where it’s going and neither does she. Jenifer’s stories ramble, turn into verbal tirades, get peppered with foul language, and meander into the next unsuspecting topic. Jenifer is loud, intimidating, tells it like it is and is as funny as she is caring. There are no rules except for Jenifer’s, she went over the store’s allotted time, allowing more fan’s questions. Jenifer’s rules about taking questions: say your name, speak up, and make it quick because the force of nature that is Jenifer Lewis isn’t waiting on your ass or she calls you out on it. She rolls her eyes and smiles as she tells you to go fuck yourself, she’s joking, but she means it.
A Jenifer Lewis side eye is terrifying and she’s always on the ready to slap a bitch!
“Walking In My Joy” is a collection of stories ripped from the pages of Jenifer’s personal journals. She talks a lot about mental health and dealing with being bipolar, in hopes of shining a light on topics that most people sweep under the rug. There’s also a lot about her work as an activist for racial justice, protecting the environment, standing up for the QUILTBAG community (who love her as much as she loves us back), while surviving a pandemic and the Trump administration.
Although some topics are heavy, Jenifer believes in laughing through the pain and laugh is what she made me do countless times. Just the imagery of a date taking her to The Cheesecake Factory amuses me to no end, who the hell takes Jenifer Mothafuckin’ Lewis to The Cheesecake Factory for a night out? She might come from a poor upbringing but that isn’t impressing anyone. A trip to the hospital during the height of the pandemic should be terrifying but medicating Jenifer only made her more vocal and funnier. My personal favorite story involved her checking in to a spa to get in shape for her last book tour and a wheatgrass cleanse that even an alpha like her couldn’t control. No spoilers here, you have to read the book just for the “Fuck The Falling Years” chapter alone. I had tears in my eyes by the end.
“Walking In My Joy” is full of trips Jenifer has gone on in her travels and is a trip itself. Mind you, it’s a trip full of four letter words and things that only Jenifer can say and do. It usually takes me a while to get through a book but I finished this book in two days. “Walking In My Joy” really is a joy.