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Publisher's Summary

From the celebrated 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."

So begins The Terrible, Yrsa Daley-Ward's brave, raw, completely 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 20s, each brought to life in Yrsa's gorgeous 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.

©2018 Yrsa Daley-Ward (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Longlisted for the 2019 PEN Open Book Award 

“Devastating and lyrical.” (The New York Times)

“Though her plainspokenness resembles Rupi Kaur’s accessibility, Daley-Ward has a specific story to tell, one that is suspenseful and affecting in its details.” (The New Yorker)  

“A few months ago, I thought I lost my love for reading. I spent weeks putting books down after a few pages. Nothing spoke to me. Then one magical day, I stumbled on The Terrible.... Daley-Ward’s beautiful prose wrapped its hands around my neck - I found myself doing stupid things like walking through New York at rush hour with my nose buried in her book.” (Jamal Jordan, The New York Times Book Review - New & Noteworthy) 

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What listeners say about The Terrible

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing!

This was superb. Lyrical. Bold. Beautiful! A joy! One I will not forget easily! Read it!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Yrsa! My hero!

A beautiful yet tragic memoir. Open and raw and real. Thank you Yrsa for sharing.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful

A Beautiful insight into the plight but at times delightful world of an African woman, elegantly told by Yrsa herself. Lovely absolutely lovely.

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Poetry

I've never enjoyed poetry - until now. I have never enjoyed an audible book as much as this one - and I've heard a few. Loved the author's accent and just the way she drew me into a subject in which I had no interest; but it didn't matter. Absolutely brilliant in every way.

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Not very descriptive for a poet

The story itself is interesting only because she is a famous poet, otherwise the writing is not very descriptive and it’s just a chronological telling of her life’s events as opposed to a story that comes to life in any real way. Not exactly boring, but didn’t hold my attention. Her voice is beautiful.

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Hated it!

I guess this book is just not for me. I never could get any base of understanding. Oh well......... sometimes you win, some books, you lose........