Strong Female Character

It’s my stop on the blog tour for Strong Female Character by comedian Fern Brady, known for her recent Taskmaster appearance and no-nonsense Scottish humour. She has written an open and honest memoir about growing up and not knowing she is autistic but knowing she is very different from others. She is kicked out of home, hates school and, whilst at university, finds freedom in strip clubs where she can be herself as she works. She doesn’t need to make small talk. She suffers abuse in a toxic relationship. She turns to alcohol and drugs.

“If you’ve ever been on a night out where you got blackout drunk and have
laughed the next day as your friends tell you all the stupid stuff you said, that’s
what being autistic feels like for me: one long blackout night of drinking, except
there’s no socially sanctioned excuse for your gaffes and no one is laughing.”

Fern has had to write a book to tell her peers, the TV industry and her fans that she is autistic. She has had to write a book to explain her meltdowns and what causes them. She didn’t want to be the person in the public eye to explain meltdowns where she smashes up furniture, but no one else stepped up.

It’s the second such book I have read this year, having equally enjoyed Chloe Hayden’s Different Not Less. Chloe’s memoir is more like a self-help book, whereas Fern’s takes us through her chaotic life as a way to boost awareness of what it’s been like to be autistic. Her straight-talking is funny but eye-opening, intriguing but shocking.

We need more stories like this. This is just one person’s account, and it possibly throws up more questions than answers. It throws the doors open and sheds some light on Fern’s lived experiences. This has to be positive, and I salute Fern for being so frank in her writing. I’m sure many people will find this relatable, and be glad she has been brave enough to put her head above the parapet.

Hannah Powell is a book blogger, author and director of two garden centres. Her award-winning memoir, The Cactus Surgeon, compares her days in the concrete of London, leading to burnout, with her nature-rich upbringing in rural Essex. It’s a nature and health memoir full of mindful moments.

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