The Terrible

The Terrible

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
Edition Language:English
ISBN:null
Format Type:

About Yrsa Daley-Ward

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.


    The Terrible Reviews

  • 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 ...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Laura King

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

  • Louise Pennington

    The Terrible is simply exquisite. ...

  • Gabriella

    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 her...

  • Sofia

    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...