Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review: Don't Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent

I'll start this review with a funny story regarding me and my experience reading.  For some reason, I went into this book thinking the author was looking back on her 20's.  In my mind she was a few years older than me and recalling her younger years.  About halfway through, Nugent tells a story about being in college and taking a road trip.  In 2008.  I was MARRIED in 2008.  It was kind of a blow to realize that the author of this MEMOIR is younger than I am.  Surely people my age (ok four years younger than my age) aren't old enough to be writing memoirs.  I feel old.

It reminded me of how every once in a while I will remember that Sugar Bear is four years younger than me and how wide that age gap seemed while we were growing up.  I even caught myself telling Buddy, who is eight years younger them me, about someone "our age."  He just rolled his eyes.

The book itself is something of an exploration of this feeling.  The author has graduated college and, without a job, is forced to move back in with her parents.  Even after she is able to get an apartment in the city with roommates, she feels like she's living in some kind of alternate reality, where she isn't old enough to be on her own.  She has a hard time adjusting to "adult" life and determining what that even means.

Because I think the book is meant to be a humorous memoir, I have to point out that I didn't really appreciate her sense of humor.  I felt like she was trying to write like other popular writers.  I'm not turned off my bad language and some crude humor, but I felt like the author was somewhat over the top with both.  It was like she included those aspects because she felt like that's how a young person's memoir should sound.  It didn't always seem genuine.

That said, the author has promise as a writer.  I think her writing issues and the lack of an authentic voice could just be the result of being young.  At "our age" it doesn't surprise me to see a memoirist lacking authenticity.

Entertainment Value
Along with being put off by the author's writing style, I had a hard time enjoying the book because I had a hard time empathizing with (and at times even liking) the author.  While I love an unsympathetic narrator or characters in fiction, it doesn't work as well when you're reading about the author's own life.

I think reading this helped me realize that I will always struggle to identify with books about young single women trying to balance sex and work in the big city.  I picked up the book thinking it would focus more on humorous aspects of the struggle my generation faces in feeling "grown up", it really was more "how can I make it in the big city."  I've just never been there.  I married young, I'm a small town girl, and I've never been much of one for partying.  Instead of sympathizing with the author and commiserating over our shared youthfulness, I just wound up feeling old and boring.

It's not one I'd recommend.  I think there are better and more convincing essayists who are more fun to read who have written on the same topic (Sloane Crosley for one).


  1. Interesting. I will have to check this out!

  2. Don't Worry it Gets Worse is a riotous good time. Super fun to read, Alida fills the book with hilarious anecdotes and insights into 20-something life. Whether or not you are a fan of her popular Frenemy blog, this book will 100% have you laughing out loud and make you feel less bad about eating cheese in your underwear.

    Irene (Rogue River Country)