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The Ugly Cry: A Memoir (Viking)
An uproarious, moving memoir about a grandmother’s ferocious love and redefining what it means to be family.
“If you fight that motherf**ker and you don’t win, you’re going to come home and fight me.” Not the advice you’d normally expect from your grandmother—but Danielle Henderson would be the first to tell you her childhood was anything but conventional.
Abandoned at ten years old by a mother who chose her drug-addicted, abusive boyfriend, Danielle was raised by grandparents who thought their child-rearing days had ended in the 1960s. She grew up Black, weird, and overwhelmingly uncool in a mostly white neighborhood in upstate New York, which created its own identity crises. Under the eye-rolling, foul-mouthed, loving tutelage of her uncompromising grandmother—and the horror movies she obsessively watched—Danielle grew into a tall, awkward, Sassy-loving teenager who wore black eyeliner as lipstick and was struggling with the aftermath of her mother’s choices. But she also learned that she had the strength and smarts to save herself, her grandmother gifting her a faith in her own capabilities that the world would not have most Black girls possess.
With humor, wit, and deep insight, Danielle shares how she grew up and grew wise—and the lessons she’s carried from those days to these. In the process, she upends our conventional understanding of family and redefines its boundaries to include the millions of people who share her story.
Danielle Henderson is a TV writer whose credits include Maniac, Divorce, and Difficult People. A retired freelance writer and former editor for Rookie, she has been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, AFAR Magazine, BuzzFeed, and The Cut. A book based on her popular website, Feminist Ryan Gosling, was released in 2012. Danielle currently co-hosts the podcast I Saw What You Did There with Millie De Chirico about the weird ways we respond to and learn to love movies. She likes to watch old episodes of Doctor Who when she is on deadline, one of her tattoos is based on the movie Rocky, and she will never stop using the Oxford comma. Danielle currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Ann Friedman is a journalist who covers gender, politics, technology, and culture for many publications, including New York magazine, The Los Angeles Times, and The Gentlewoman. She co-hosts the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, and is the co-author of Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close. Find her work and subscribe to her popular weekly email newsletter at annfriedman.com.
Praise for The Ugly Cry:
"Painfully good. I loved it.” –Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy
“The Ugly Cry is the funniest memoir I have ever read. It is also achingly sad. And powerfully redemptive.” –Augusten Burroughs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors
“Danielle Henderson is a wonderful writer, and this clear-eyed look at her complex and flawed childhood did make me cry, as the title promises, but it also made me laugh–that is the beauty of a life well told. I look forward to recommending The Ugly Cry to memoir-lovers, to mall-lovers, to tough grandma-lovers, to tough-sister-lovers–to everyone, really.” —Emma Straub, bestselling author of All Adults Here
“The Ugly Cry is funny and honest, disarming and bracing, like sharing a long meal with a new friend while she unspools the story of how she came to call her grandma the love of her life.” –Linda Holmes, bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over