... powerful and energetic ... Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking ... 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.
... [Henderson] renders her family with searing honesty and wit ... she brings them to life with her indefatigable sense of humor, which is as quick and sharp as the violence she lived with as a child ... Henderson opts for mirth over pathos, and the results are often shocking and funny simultaneously ... Her unflinchingly honest voice especially shines through when treading softly around the sexual abuse she endured.
Henderson recalls growing up in 1980s upstate New York, usually as the only Black kid navigating a sea of whiteness, with focus, crystal clarity, humor, and care. New York City beckons teenage Henderson with its possibilities, and her hilariously no-nonsense grandma, who young Henderson thought was 'the meanest, craziest person I’d ever met,' becomes the fiercely loving heart and undisputed star of this book. A story of learning to survive trauma and an inventory of love’s many guises, Henderson’s memoir ends as she starts college, leaving readers hoping there’s much more to come.
[A] book chock full of jokes, funny anecdotes and crackling dialogue ... A TV writer for series like Divorce, Maniac and, not surprisingly, Difficult People, Henderson has an aptitude for realistically rendering complicated characters ... Between the quips, behind the comedy, there is breathtaking sorrow. The book scissored my heart to shreds. All manner of violence — psychic, sexual, physical — is enacted on children ... The Ugly Cry is a vivid, voice-y, richly textured read; it is also profoundly sad, and must have been spectacularly difficult to write.
Henderson’s personal journey, from wounded uncertainty to determined self-confidence, is moving, and her skill as a writer lets her balance the darker moments of her childhood with diverting recollections of all-day banishments from the house during the summer and catastrophic teenage trips to concerts in New York City. The narrative moves seamlessly from childhood to adulthood, and Henderson recounts her college years with a combination of fondness and regret. Ending with a chapter about the memory of her grandparents, she writes powerfully about the slow reversal of their roles, with Henderson eventually becoming her grandparents’ caretaker ... An honest account of an unconventional childhood, and of learning to accept the hard truths of loving people who disappoint you. Henderson’s debut is a treat for memoir fans.
Henderson vividly and heartbreakingly describes her experiences ... Henderson writes candidly about how her unprocessed grief led to depression and suicidal ideation ... Henderson writes with an incredible amount of vulnerability, presenting her story with a cleareyed compassion for her mother, grandmother, and, ultimately, herself ... A redemptive memoir about a Black woman’s victory over childhood abuse, racism, and mental illness.