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The Terrible

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  273 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
From the poet behind bone, a lyrical memoir—part prose, part verse—about coming-of-age, uncovering the cruelty and the beauty of the wider world, and redemption through self-discovery and the bonds of family

“My little brother and I saw a unicorn in the garden in the late nineties.
I’m telling you. Neither one of us made it up; it was as real as anything else.”

The Terrible,
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Penguin Books
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Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favs-the-baes
“Pull yourself together. You are an African, the most magical kind of human there is.”

I knew that this book would break my heart and it did. It’s a memoir of Yrsa dealing with life’s challenges (understatement) and it is raw, brutal and honest.

There are four parts to this book, each section exploring a different stage in the authors life, the tone of the book and the language changing with it and echoing its time frame.

Thought it is poetry, the writing does an incredible job of weaving those p
Roman Clodia
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't find this as fresh or original as I hoped: Daley-Ward creates a dark memoir of alienation, depression and a downward spiral of drink, drugs and sex, occasionally lit by flares of imagination and sparse moments of love and connection.

But I found this over-written in places, and the free-verse form gimmicky with random line breaks and occasional right-margin justification which have no effect on meaning or interpretation.

There's so much white space on each page that this is a speedy read
Rod-Kelly Hines
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
I knew this would be great but wow!

This memoir-in-verse is stunningly candid, often invoking painful memories that highlight what seems to be universal pain and trauma that black children inherit from their parents. The truth of this touched me while I read because Yrsa Daley-Ward does not shy away from the subject: she points a finger at her mother's parenting, her grandparents religious strictness, the stream of men who treated her as a sexual object, and consequently, her foray into being a
4.5 stars - An emotional sucker punch.

Don’t you know you’re one of the lucky one? shouts the terrible. Don’t you know I’ve got you, you ungrateful, ungrateful creature? You wretch! Don’t you know those dark times kept you stronger? (thus sayeth the terrible). Don’t you know without me you would be just another girl with an everyday life and an almost-house always under construction and a man you tolerate and don’t really love and a father you met but who stopped you from doing anything and seei
Lara Kareem
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so terribly good, it carries Yrsa's essence from the onset to the end. It is one dark tale, with glimpses of lights here and there, but so dark and powerful, Yrsa can't help but capture my attention with her story.

To me this memoir is one of a kind because it is truly a piece of art, it's like reading a beautiful long poem, verse-prose? that starts with how she came to be in this terrible hard world and how from an early age she had to learn to always look out for herself, in order
Laura King
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible memoir that feels more like verse than prose. So sad and gorgeous and compelling.
Louise Pennington
The Terrible is simply exquisite.
I was excited to read this book, because while I'm not really a fan of Yrsa Daley Ward's poetry, I do think the clarity she employs in that work would make for an intriguing memoir.

Not many things here are new experiences—oppressively religious grandparents, confusing and/or concerning childhood experiences with sexuality, and lots of self-despair, all of which funnel into a gripping depression beginning in Daley-Ward's young adult years, which we are still in the thick of by the end of this mem
A few months ago I read Bone, and the only thing I had to say at first was that I so badly wanted to hear the poetry spoken out loud. Then, at the beginning of June, I actually got the opportunity to see Yrsa, as her book tour for The Terrible had a stop in my city. Listening to her speak was as beautiful and as powerful as I had imagined, and walking out of that bookshop, I felt so inspired. Since that day I’ve had a copy of The Terrible, but have been waiting for the right time to read it. Thi ...more
I think Ysra Daley-Ward is very brave for writing this and there are some beautiful sections/lines, but overall there were too many stylistic tricks that served absolutely no purpose, which ultimately made this a rather unsatisfying read.

May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shahd Fadlalmoula
Yrsa Daley-Ward has a heavy hard story to tell. Still she tells it with the most brilliant grace. To be completely honest, I had doubts when I heard that her next book was going to be a memoir, but I'm so glad I didn't give into those doubts. Yrsa has lived a full life, it hasn't been easy, but getting a glimpse of the diamond's shinning makes the jewel all the more valuable. I can safely say this memoir has given the ability to find more depth and appreciation in Yrsa's [already profoundly movi ...more
Wade Snowden
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Florence Welch, of Florence + The Machine, says that Yrsa’s works is like “holding the truth in your hands.”
That perfectly sums up how I feels.
Her first collection, “bone,” was incredible, and I am so glad this went even further with her craft.
Yrsa Daley-Ward is an extraordinary story teller, and I suggest you run to pick up her work
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was amazing - will write more later but I wasn't expecting to like this so much due to it's poetic style (I pretty much hate poetry?) but this was wonderful and so powerful and I loved it
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Labeled as a "lyrical memoir" which was very different and challenging for me, I enjoyed it but kept feeling like I wanted it to either be more of a book or more poetry, but the prose vs verse in-between was an interesting challenge to engage with. I took my time with this since she writes throughout about depression and the heaviness and darkness she paints is quite vivid.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a great read, and an incredible, sometimes dark story being told. The style of writing switches between poetry and prose throughout. I found myself unable to put it down! Read it in a few days :)
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous writing. How does she take a tough life and convey it so beautifully?
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yrsa Daley-Ward is best known for her 2014 poetry collection "bone". Now, she published her lyrical memoir "The Terrible", which chronicles her growing up and early twenties. If you pick the book up to get to know a lot of 'facts' about Daley-Ward's life and maybe her writing career, then you might be disappointed. Having said that, it is a wonderful book. In little vignettes, some more poetry, some rather prose, Daley-Ward writes about the equally troubled live of her mother, living with her ve ...more
This is a very unique memoir, with large parts of it written in verse. There's no pattern to what the next page was going to be (a poem or prose), but that was perfectly OK. I was too wrapped up in the author's words. Needless to say, I loved this book.

Yrsa Daley-Ward tells a very honest story about her life. Her and her younger brother grow up in a very strict, very religious Seven-Day Adventist household with her mother's parents. With her father absent, her and her brother go to live with th
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Terrible is a dark memoir following Yrsa's early life from the North of England as she spirals down South into a life of drink, drugs, depression and the Terrible within. It's a bleak and heart-breaking read though underpinned with a familial love that, though not expressed, pulses beneath the verse; beautifully rendered yet a brutal retelling.
Though the work ends at a more hopeful point in the poet's life, there were certain shadows in the piece; characters we fear without being sure why, f
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, harrowing truth that I could've devoured in a day. I'm glad I stretched out reading this across 3 days to be able to process and comprehend 'The Terrible' and terrible things that haunt Yrsa and Roo, but I hate they happened. An accessible (but far from easy) read that sums up how our screwed up society treats women and how easy it is to fall down a hole and keep spiralling.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I adore Yrsa, she's a force. I was just surprised her writing didn't feel more original, unique. There were some beautiful passages but overall it was like I had read this book many times before. But do read Bone and also her appearance at GAL <3
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read-shelf
I received this book for free through Goodreads. I really liked this book even though the writing style was different than the usual written memoir. She really pulled you into her story which made it hard to put the book down.
Degan Walters
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I adore Yrsa Daley-Ward and her poetry, and she sure has had an interesting life but this account fell a bit flat for me. It felt like it was written in a big rush and there are some poetic elements but also several parts that feel thrown together. I will look for more from her.
Naeemah Huggins
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Terrible is the depression, the blackness of a heart and a life. She writes poetically in the present tense. This is the kind of memoir than I think can only be written if your mom is no longer living. It is harsh and true. I appreciated the honesty.
Madeline Miles
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. A mix of poetry and prose and written in a way where even a non-poet can be totally enthralled and want to continue to turn the page. She’s a really talented writer with a knack for telling stories—a perfect combo for a really wonderful book.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Intense. Thank you, Yrsa Daley-Ward, for sharing your truth. So powerful how each chapter is a poem, a series of vignettes of different emotional states that also drive the narrative forward.
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you for the novel. I read it all and still wondering why I did. Not quite the type of story I am used to - or maybe it was the style of writing... I felt very sorry for the whole family.
Michelle Despres
I devoured part one. It was riveting. I liked the other three parts a bit less.

"Lyrical memoir" is a good description. A reader expecting poetry may be disappointed.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great story by a great storyteller
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Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. Her first collection of stories 'On Snakes and Other Stories' was published by 3:AM Press.
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“Time is an illusion, say the scientists. It is molecular, it is bendable or liquid, it is soldered metal; or it is droplets of memory. I imagine it looks like mercury, silver and elusive...Burn all the clocks. I am free.” 2 likes
“I am somewhere else now. I am part human, part metaphysics, and I still haven't worked out which parts of me are which. I love this new form. I can feel space traveling through me. I am porous and wondrous and bold ... It's not that I loved to leave, rather that staying was always completely impossible.” 1 likes
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