Book review: Danielle Henderson writes a powerful and energetic memoir

"The Ugly Cry" by Danielle Henderson (Viking)

"The Ugly Cry," Danielle Henderson's powerful and energetic memoir, chronicles her childhood growing up in her quirky grandmother's house.

Henderson was abandoned at age 10 by her mother, who ran off with her abusive boyfriend and their newborn baby. And so, Henderson and her brother find themselves being raised by their blunt and sassy grandmother, a woman filled with brash advice and tough love. At the same time, she is also Henderson's fiercest advocate, a devoted and constant presence in her otherwise chaotic world.

Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, the memoir details Henderson's quest to figure out who she is in the face of the difficult hand life has dealt her.

It takes a lot of talent to strike an artful balance between such funny stories and the solemn, traumatic moments in Henderson's life. She finds this balance expertly, taking readers along on her roller coaster ride of emotions. Her deeply honest writing is crisp, engaging and full of life as it examines the complexity of identity, family, childhood and independence.

Through it all, the deep love Henderson feels for her grandmother never stops shining through. This book, above all else, is an homage to the woman who dropped everything to be there for two kids who had no one else.

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