Alida Nugent, of The Frenemy blog fame, has brought her witty snark to the literary world with this debut. The book—a collection of short essays on 20-something life—has fine writing and some genuinely funny lines, but I was initially put off by the subject matter.
Nugent spends a lot of time bragging about failed attempts at maturity, seems to revel in her emotional and financial instability, and spends too many pages discussing how best to drink in front of your parents—all with a self-awareness that seems like an insincere exaggeration of her flaws. It Gets Worse isn’t all cutesy catastrophe, though.
Towards the end, Nugent lessens the tongue-in-cheek act and seems to grow up in front of our eyes. She starts to write about panic attacks and weight issues, more sensitive topics than I had expected from those earlier, more hyper essays, and she handles them with honesty and level-headedness. There’s also a passage on feeling both lost and at home in New York City that, while not terribly original, is touching and relatable. It’s in these subjects that the author sheds her aren’t I an adorable mess? kind of attitude, and where the book becomes most affecting.
Perhaps Nugent’s collection should be called Stick with It, It Gets Better—her life might not, but the book definitely does.
By Molly Labell