The Terrible: A Storyteller's Memoir

The Terrible: A Storyteller's Memoir Review

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, Yrsa Daley-Ward’s brave, raw, lyrical memoir that captures the surreal magic and incredible discomfort of adolescence, burgeoning sexuality, rootlessness, and connection.

Through emotional snapshots that span from her adolescence through her early twenties, each brought to life in Yrsa’s signature style of open white spaces and stirring, singular lines, The Terrible evokes the pain and thrill of girlhood, as well as what it means to discover the fear and power that come with being a woman. With a sharp eye and a rare talent for mining the beauty and the sorrow in the everyday, Yrsa recounts her remarkable life: growing up as one of the only black children in a poor, white, working class town; navigating the extreme Christianity of her family; inquiring after her paternity; moving through phases of addiction and sexual encounters; and ultimately finding her place in her family and in life.

Title:The Terrible: A Storyteller's Memoir
Edition Language:English

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Warda

    “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 challenge...

  • Roman Clodia

    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 ...

  • Rod-Kelly Hines

    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 fro...

  • Nina

    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 ...

  • Lara Kareem

    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 m...

  • Melody

    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 yo...

  • Nikita Gill

    I love Yrsa Daley-Ward. I love the way she visualises her world. I love the way her brain works, and the way she puts pen to paper. Her work on instagram is gorgeous, but this, this was something othe...

  • Laura King

    Incredible memoir that feels more like verse than prose. So sad and gorgeous and compelling....

  • Louise Pennington

    The Terrible is simply exquisite. ...

  • flannery

    This is a good story but it's written as a poem, to no real effect, and I was likewhy....