Beautiful and Bullshit Free, Emily Morris’ Memoir is Amusing and Affecting
Your early twenties.
A lot of us were at University then - with the accompanying drinking and debauchery - Late nights, late mornings and the occasional lecture. What seemed like moments later would come the dull terror of starting a first “grown-up” job, discovering the horrors of taxes, bills and grubby house-shares. All fairly awful, but dealt with easily, normally with the aid of the cheapest bottle of wine on offer in the corner shop.
Now take those feelings of uncertainty, doubt and unpreparedness that we all felt, and imagine that you found out you were expecting a child too - those boozy times swapped for nappy changes, sore nipples and endless sleepless nights.
It's an idea that would throw the strongest of us - but one I’ve been thinking about for a long time. At the age of 19, my fresh-faced Mum had left the wilds of the North East in order to move down to London, fulfilling a dream of working as a Nanny. A dream that was swiftly shattered by my appearance - a complete accident, and three months early.
To say that my parents were surprised by my arrival would be an understatement - but my only memory of those early years are immensely happy ones. How they coped with the complete upheaval of their lives is beyond me though, especially as the thought of a baby is still one that fills me with terror now I'm rapidly approaching the age of 30. I've always wondered quite how well I would have managed were I to find myself with a baby in my early twenties - and I doubt it's anywhere near as well as Emily Morris does in this memoir that's as affecting as it is amusing.
Emily Morris is an author based in Manchester. The holder of an MA in Writing Studies from Edge Hill University, she lives with her son and her cat - and loves writing scripts, young adult fiction, and short stories.
When Emily was 22, and on a year's break from studying at the University of Manchester, she found herself pregnant. The father swiftly let her know that he wanted nothing to do with the child, telling Emily "enjoy your impending shitty, snotty, vomity twenties" before disappearing.
a warm sense of humour that carries the reader through on a wave of goodwill
Stories like this can often turn into the type of book categorised as a "Misery Memoir" - books people pick up chiefly to make them feel better about their own lives. That isn't a concern here though - Author Emily Morris fills her book with a warm sense of humour that carries the reader through on a wave of goodwill. She's always honest and blunt about her circumstances, with an independence and intelligence that's clearly very evident.
Emily's struggles are all relatable - keeping a job, paying bills, juggling friends and family etc, but heightened by the pregnancy and subsequent baby. As a result, it's a read that anyone could relate to - regardless of whether they've been in a similar situation or not.
For a good deal of the pregnancy, Emily continued living with friends in a house share, full of students and parties. The gradual dawning of the realities of motherhood is conveyed beautifully - the divide between Emily's life and those of her friends growing wider with every mother and baby group, hospital appointment and online parenting group.
One thing that becomes abundantly clear is that Emily isn't a fan of bullshit -her straightforward manner makes it easy for the reader to instantly connect with her, but also makes reading the various situations she has to deal with, particularly the preconceptions and assumptions that people have towards her as a young, expectant single mother, especially amusing.
That humour is balanced well with the harsh realities of life that Emily has to face -and It's clear that this isn't just another memoir of pregnancy - but rather a beautiful detailing of the author's growth and change from a student to a Mother.
I'm always loathe to use the "Journey" cliche but "My Shitty Twenties" is designed to take the reader on just that, in the company of the author, and it works exceptionally well - even if you can't immediately relate to the situations that Emily finds herself in, the style and panache with which they're conveyed makes them immensely readable and hugely enjoyable.
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