With her memoir The Ugly Cry: How I Became a Person (Despite My Grandmother’s Horrible Advice) Danielle Henderson has achieved the impossible: she shares the story of a childhood marked by trauma and abandonment and violence, and turns it into an astonishing and at times deeply funny love story between her young self and the terrifying woman who raised her. Abandoned at age 10, Danielle was left in the care of her formidable, foul-mouthed, no-bullshit grandmother. What follows is a brutal and powerful relationship between a smart and scarred little girl and her outrageously powerful older caregiver. Danielle conveys a bond based in survival, love, and, in its own way, encouragement.
The Ugly Cry is one of the most vividly written portrayals of a complex and phenomenal force of nature I’ve ever read in any genre. But it is also a story about what strength looks like for girls and women. It is about Danielle thriving in spite of her lot in life, of realizing her dream of becoming an artist and writer — one who is vulnerable and generous, and wildly talented.
Unsentimental, frank, painful, and still somehow laugh-out-loud funny, this story tore me open at the heart. I’ve never read anything quite like it.
Find a discussion guide for The Ugly Cry here.