First book review of 2019! And what better book to kick us off than The Terrible, which is an autobiography written by Yrsa Daley-Ward, poet and storyteller extraordinaire. Written in a mix of poetry and prose, Yrsa draws in the reader by painting vivid descriptions of her childhood, growing up in a small town in England and being raised by her Jamaican mom and later, her pious Seventh Day Adventist grandparents. Yrsa bares all in an almost brutal fashion as she talks openly about adolescence struggles, sexual discovery, restlessness and addiction spanning from girlhood to adulthood.

This book will have you feeling ALL the emotions. I smiled reading about Yrsa’s sweet connection and relationship with her little brother, Roo. My heart broke for Yrsa as I turned the pages that revealed her addiction and mental health struggles. As I read the book, one of the things that stuck with me was the loss of innocence that comes with childhood traumas and the reverberations of those wounds well into adulthood.

Yrsa explores themes of immigration, race, single parenthood, identity, sexuality, drug abuse and depression in a way that doesn’t sound preachy because of how raw and honest she writes. The interlacing of poetry adds to the richness of the story, making it an easy read that can be enjoyed by all, whether you are a poetry lover or not.

in love with how it happened so far,
even the terrible things.
and God, there were terrible things.Yrsa Daley-Ward

PS: check out this episode of the Mostly Lit podcast where Yrsa delves more into her memoir and the aforementioned themes.

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