Are You There, Helen? It’s Me, Your Best Friend: Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light By Helen Ellis

My daughter often talks about moving to NYC after graduating from college, a mere two years from now. I will only be cool with this if somehow I can visit often and become the very best of friends with Helen Ellis.

Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light” is Ellis’ upcoming collection of essays (Doubleday, out July 13, pre-order this from an independent bookseller or I will hunt you down) and the third trip I’ve taken with her after “Southern Lady Code” and “American Housewife.”

Here’s the short of it — if you like to laugh, and laugh hard, with the occasional snort coming at the expense of something just to the left of inappropriate, I urge you to pre-order this post-haste. Ellis’ ability to craft the personal essay is whatever is about six stories higher than top notch, and if, like me, you are similar in age (that being late 40s to early 50s), the relatability factor is a 10.

In “Baggage,” Ellis tackles so much of what is the ordinary every day for us gals persevering through our middle years — contractors that want to upsell you on geriatric safety equipment, the evolution of the girls’ trip (which can still include a water park), the importance of those girlfriends and knowing how to support each other, what a character looks like, aging parents, being a badass lady poker player, plastic surgery and of course, menopause.

The laughing comes with nodding, as every single piece of the book resonates. From helping a friend along her cancer diagnosis and treatment, to reminiscing about your childhood at your parents’ last garage sale, to those rules we all have to help us determine who we want to sit next to on public transportation — every essay has a takeaway to which you find yourself thinking, “Yep.”

I always feel like there’s a better, funnier version of me worth excavating when I read Ellis’ essays. So many of us are thinking it. She’s out there saying it. My favorite new mantra? From her essay, “I’m a Believer” — “I was not put on this earth to make strangers take me seriously.” It’s my new “Carpe Diem,” people.

I mean it — run and get this the day it hits the shelves. Read it, then pass it to a girlfriend. You’ll love, love, love it.

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