Editorial Reviews & Assessments
Chic Lit Café: First Place Winner CLC Book Excellence Best Memoir
Reader Views Book Blog
Judy Haveson invites readers to tag along as she recounts her happy, albeit traumatic, childhood growing up in Suburban Texas in the 1970s and ‘80s. Relishing joy, weathering illness, and surviving a life-altering attack, Judy has her big sister, Celia, beside her. But when a grim health diagnosis threatens to change everything, Judy must fathom the unfathomable—a future without her beloved sister. Judy’s healing is a long process, rife with sadness and anger. Still, through it all, she relies on Celia’s loving memory to persevere. Brimming with giggle-inducing antidotes and heartwarming recollections, “Laugh Cry Rewind” is a memoir that will stick with you long after the last page.
“Laugh Cry Rewind” is an endearing memoir written by Judy Haveson to honor her sister, Celia. After losing the person most near and dear to her heart, Judy knows she can either drown in the grief threatening to consume her or make every moment count. She chooses the latter, hoping that Celia is watching proudly over her. Still, life seems to go smoothly for a while, but then serious curveballs are thrust her way, sending her dodging for a reprieve. Periods of unemployment, illness, death, and infertility cause a thick fog around Judy. But she quickly learns that the sun always shines again, even on the darkest days.
Readers experience Judy’s ups and downs in her candid novel. No matter the scenario, the author’s recollections are engaging and brimming with humor. I admired how she found a way to smile in every situation. She is a glass-half-full type of person; no matter how bleak a situation, her positivity illuminates every chapter. I have no doubt that Judy successfully shows readers that a fulfilling life is still possible after enduring insurmountable grief. She vowed to make Celia proud, and good sisters always keep their promises.
This immersive memoir will resonate with readers who enjoy stories sprinkled with themes of family, love, and faith. Judy is an animated storyteller with an excellent sense of humor that enables her to overcome obstacles and see the silver lining. If you’re seeking inspiration, you’ll find it in the pages of “Laugh Cry Rewind” by Judy Haveson.
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (08/2023)
Readers' Favorite Review
Laugh Cry Rewind: A Memoir by Judy Haveson is a life story portrayed with resilience amid joy and tragedy. Raised in a loving family, Haveson navigated teenage years marked by familial illness and endured a horrific assault. In college, she mourned her sister Celia's death from Hodgkin's disease. Despite overwhelming grief, she found solace in music and built a successful career, working up from the bottom rung as an unpaid intern to road tours with pop culture icons of the day. A move to New York presented new challenges, but also love with her partner Adam. When yet more tragic losses clipped at their marriage and European honeymoon, Haveson switched focus to her well-being. Following loss again, Haveson fell pregnant in 2007. The birth of her son, complicated by his diagnosis of mild hemophilia, brought joy and trepidation. Through sleepless nights and health fears, Haveson honored her sister's memory, embracing strength and the journey of motherhood.
Laugh Cry Rewind by Judy Haveson is a profoundly honest and deeply personal account of a woman who is the embodiment of falling down five times and getting up six. In fact, it feels like that's about how many lives Haveson has lived. The memoir depicts a turbulent coming of age that without the foundation of a solid family would have toppled a less fortunate young person. The death of her sister Celia was difficult to read because it is too heartbreaking to imagine. Haveson plows forward to navigate life's ups and downs, persisting in her search for joy and love amidst a stream of losses. There's fun too, though! She was actually on tour with Vanilla Ice when he was in a motorcycle accident and comes across authentically as the cool girl you always wanted to be your friend. She's practically Sassy Magazine material. Overall, the book presents a touching tapestry of Haveson's life, her courage, and her unwavering belief in the power of love in all its forms, reminding us of the human capacity to laugh, cry, and ultimately rebound.
Appearance: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Development: 5 out of 5
Formatting: 5 out of 5
Marketability: 5 out of 5
Overall Opinion: 5 out of 5
Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
A remarkable portrait of resilience and hope in the face of unimaginable loss, Laugh Cry Rewind by Judy Haveson documents her life from an idyllic childhood that is later marred by tragedy to a hopeful and moving ending. This is a must-read, award-winning, one-of-a-kind, and outstanding memoir.
Judy Haveson grew up in Houston, Texas, during the 1970s and 1980s with her sister, Celia, and her parents. She had a beautiful childhood surrounded by a loving and supportive community and family. Tragedy struck when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and at the age of sixteen, Judy struggled with the devastating news. Her mother recovered, but her sister was later diagnosed with the same disease that soon took her life. Celia’s death left Judy feeling lost. Still, she endeavored to move forward and keep alive the memories they shared.
The work does a brilliant job of conveying the emotions relating to the tragedies Judy Haveson experiences. As a victim of sexual assault, she shares the pain, fear, and anguish she encountered following the horrific incident. She also covers the pain she experienced after losing her sister and other close family members who impacted her life and her challenging journey of becoming a mother. The story perfectly balances sad moments and joyous ones, including the beautiful times she spent with her friends. She has many other fun experiences in her career as a records promoter which involve meeting renowned artists such as Elton John.
The story’s descriptive language paints vivid images of the scenes included in the book. Judy Haveson describes the frantic, uncertain days that followed her arrival in New York for a new job which was closely followed by The September 11 attacks. She describes the uncertainty she and her colleagues felt, not knowing whether the industry they worked in would survive. Judy remembers Celia’s wise words through different seasons and strives to live entirely according to her last promise to her sister. I loved this memoir and found Judy Haveson’s openness refreshing. I also loved that she covered different aspects of her life, including the difficult and happy moments.
Laugh Cry Rewind by Judy Haveson is a powerful and triumphant account demonstrating how to embrace and live fully despite encountering tragic events. Readers will love its candid approach, beautiful, compelling descriptions, and hopeful message. Laugh Cry Rewind by Judy Haveson is an extremely well-written book that is authentic, unique, memorable, and highly recommended by Chick Lit Café.
Book reviewed by Edith Emunah for Chick Lit Café.
"With a sublime balance of heartbreak and humor, Judy Haveson shares her life story in Laugh Cry Rewind. Growing up in a loving Jewish family could not protect Haveson’s childhood from unthinkable traumas, including a random act of violence and the death of her adored sister, Celia. Her sister’s calm and wisdom stayed alive in Haveson’s memory as she navigated college, careers, dating, marriage and miscarriages, the deaths of beloved family members, and celebrated the birth of her son. Reading more like an autobiography with its strict chronology, Laugh Cry Rewind is intimate and mesmerizing thanks to Haveson’s conversational style and wit; her struggles and triumphs are palpable, and even her ordinary stories dazzle.
Manhattan Book Review
Laugh Cry Rewind is Author Judy Haveson’s beautifully written memoir that will truly make its readers laugh, cry, and possibly rewind back to their own childhoods. The first thing I noticed about this book was how Judy spoke to her readers. I felt as if she was my new best friend, and we were out for coffee, trading stories about our lives. One subject flowing freely to the next where one minute we would be tearing up over a very sad life occurrence and within a few minutes saying, "but remember when..." and then coming up with some outrageous story. I absolutely could not put this book down once I started reading it.
A young girl growing up in a nice Conservative family in Texas, Judy shared an August birthday with her older sister Celia. Of course, she looked up to her sister, and although Judy was a bit of a little pest as a child, as the sisters grew older, they became closer. The lessons that Judy learned from her sister and loved ones would carry her through her years into adulthood. There were a lot of funny stories in this book, including the one in which Judy's mother brought her to the morning kindergarten class instead of the afternoon one. I also got a giggle out of some of the dates she went on before meeting her husband. There were a lot of signs of the time that Judy documented in her book, including her mother, Barbara, needing permission from her husband to teach Black children. Barbara stood up for herself, and this was just one of the lessons Judy learned growing up. Of course, anyone who grew up in the 90s would be jealous of Judy's jaunt in the music industry, working with Vanilla Ice, and meeting Sir Elton John.
The saddest part of the book is when Celia is diagnosed with cancer and passes away at only twenty-six years old. Celia's positivity and strength throughout her fight is something else Judy remembers and carries in her heart. I say this because there are many times in the book when Judy tells a story, she comes back to think about what advice Celia would have given her in her current situation.
In our lives, we have ups and downs. Judy was able to do a wonderful job of chronicling her own life in Laugh Cry Rewind. I recommend this book to any and all readers who love great memoirs.
Independent Book Review
A poignant memoir that shows how love perseveres beyond death
Judy Haveson lives a charmed life in 1970s/80s Houston. Her parents are forward-thinking, compassionate, and devoted to their two children. As a schoolteacher, her mother spends holidays traveling with her daughters. Even Judy’s extended family are close-knit.
But unfortunately, her idyllic childhood isn’t to last. A series of crushing, traumatic experiences afflict the Havesons. The last and worst is the news that Judy’s sister, Celia, has gotten cancer.
In the face of this newest challenge, Judy’s family does what it has always done: pulls together. This time, though, there is no coming back from the heartbreak. At 19, Judy loses her only sister. Now she and the rest of her family must learn to navigate life without her.
Laugh Cry Rewind could easily fall into pity memoir territory, but the often funny, irreverent tone puts it onto another level. While the central most devastating event in Judy’s life might have been losing her sister, Celia’s life dominates the page more than her death. This isn’t the story of a person fixed on one terrible moment, but of a person whose moments, both bad and good, all add up to an incredible life.
On one hand, it seems remarkable that Judy can live such a courageous and rich life after all she has endured; on the other, it seems impossible that she would do anything else. Even in her darkest hour, Celia’s focus is in protecting her family. Making sure that they would not only survive without her, but flourish. Rather than falling into grief, Judy aims to make hers a life Celia could be proud of.
I haven’t read a memoir that explores existence in quite the same way as this one. It leans much more toward being uplifting than miserable. The Havesons are the type of people who would be inspiring simply by being themselves. They handle all the obstacles that are thrown at them with an exorbitant amount of grace and fortitude. The openness of their conversations even about topics that most people would never want to broach is impressive.
The prose in Laugh Cry Rewind is richly detailed. Judy’s memory must be amazing, because there are times the details are so precise and authentic that the writing transports you completely into the scene. While this adds a level of reality I haven’t often found in memoirs, the emotional landscape is sometimes lacking. This isn’t to say that there’s a dearth of emotion here. The love between Judy and her family is palpable, as is the anxiety as she searches for a relationship or the uncertainty in making difficult career choices. But there are times where the feelings may still be raw, and it feels as though Judy pulls back emotionally and only describes the event.
Laugh Cry Rewind is a poignant portrait of a life well lived. Funny, awkward, and sad by turns, it explores the ins and outs of navigating all the complexities of the world from adolescence to relationships to careers.
The BookLife Prize
Plot/Idea: Haveson's Laugh Cry Rewind is a moving chronicle of a Houston family's joys and struggles with illness and loss. The author vividly brings her extended family members to life while injecting humor and poignancy throughout her storytelling.
Prose: Haveson is a highly capable writer. Her prose style is warm, inviting, and gently humorous, even amidst tremendous emotional pain and trauma. The book features excellent pacing and a sound balance between informative sections, dialogue, and personal reflections on the unfolding circumstances.
Originality: Every family's story is unique, but not all memoirs are distinctive. Haveson's warm and endearing writing style, paired with a keen eye for detail, allow this work to shine.
Character/Execution: Haveson excels at characterization. While the author herself emerges clearly, family members are equally well rendered through descriptions, charming anecdotes, and dialogue.