Cover Image: Strong Female Character

Strong Female Character

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is a great memoir with clear author's voice and lots to learn about autism, especially in women, through Fern's story.
Was this review helpful?
Fern Brady, the author, is a woman with autism, who was diagnosed as an adult rather than a child because autism presents differently in women than in men. This memoir is her personal story, and covers her life up to the time the novel was published. It is a raw and rather gripping story, and includes some disturbing incidents in her life, ranging from her time in a mental facility to her choice to become a stripper to make the money she needed to finish university. Her personal experiences demonstrate just how difficult it can be for women with autism to be properly diagnosed and receive the assistance they need, and also underscores the difficulty many women with autism have with relationships, with their families, with friends, and with significant others. There are some references to research into the field of autism, but largely Ms. Brady presents information from her own perspective. She has a tendency to present her own experiences and then state that her experience is representative of all women with autism, which may or may not be true; certainly, it appears that many women with autism may hold similar viewpoints. Recommended for ages 16 and up, due to subject matter.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I only knew of Fern Brady from watching Taskmaster on YouTube; and then we watched some of her standup shows and an interview she did after this book came out. This is much more than a confessional autobiography. Brady tells us more about the sickness of “normal” society than about being different. She confronts the conformity, the complacency, sexism and intolerance of normal life. Anyone who has felt like an outsider, who has suffered from being different, and has trouble doing the facework needed to play social games is going to recognize aspects of their own experience in Brady’s book. She writes beautifully, shies away from nothing, and has a keen sociological eye.
Was this review helpful?
Before this book I knew Fern Brady not at all. She’s made a name for herself between the UK comedy and television scenes, and while I enjoy a British panel show I’ve managed to miss Brady entirely. I decided to request this book from NetGalley based purely on the fact that this is a memoir of a woman who was diagnosed with autism as an adult and that’s a story I am very interested in. Like Brady, I too do a reasonably convincing impression of a normal woman. I also am increasingly uninterested in the cost of that trade-off.  

In Strong Female Character she reflects, utilizing her piercing clarity and wit, on the ways her undiagnosed autism influenced her youth. This memoir tracks Brady’s attempts at employment, her increasingly destructive coping mechanisms, and the meltdowns that left her mind (and apartment) in ruins. Her chaotic, nonlinear journey is a testament to life at the intersection of womanhood and neurodiversity, of how being female can get in the way of being autistic and how being autistic gets in the way of being the ‘right kind’ of woman.

My autism also didn’t get on radar until well into my adulthood. I didn’t pursue an official diagnosis because I felt it wouldn’t bring me any additional supports. Learning how to cope with my autism (and various neuro-spiciness) is in part from my therapist – who is a wonderful woman who has helped me in some very big, important ways – but in larger part from the autism communities online comprised of other late-diagnosed women and non-binary folk. The autistic social media folks who put aside any worries they might have about being so public about their own experiences are filling the void where support from the health services and medical community should be. As is Brady in chronicling exactly what her meltdowns look and feel like and what has worked for her and what hasn’t and what they’ve cost her over the years. It simply isn’t out there.

Without the kind of transgressive honesty Brady is using here, a lot of us would be in much worse shape. While reading I found myself wondering would we know how to live in a way that avoids meltdowns and shutdowns and having the plethora of maladaptive coping mechanisms that I do if the system cared at all about dealing with and understanding the kinds of autism Brady and I experience (they have overlap while still being quite different… because it’s a spectrum). These mechanisms are now very deeply entrenched, and I will have a lot of work to do if I want to undo them. But at least I have another book by a late diagnosed woman to go to.

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin Random House via NetGalley. It has not affected the contents of this review.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed reading Fern’s story but like so many books it seemed really disjointed, we learned a lot about her sad childhood and stripping career but then suddenly she was a successful comedian on TV and it seemed like it came out of nowhere. I kept going to back to see if I had missed a chapter but I hadn’t.
Was this review helpful?
I was very interested in reading this, but the author's style put me off. While initially amusing, the lack of further connection or interpretation of events eventually is wearing. Readers would do better with Hannah Gadsby's Ten Steps to Nanette.
Was this review helpful?
What a profound, hilarious, and original memoir! I never see any books told from the perspective of an autistic one, and Fern Brady does such a fantastic job of portraying the world through her eyes. One of my best reads of 2023!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Net Galley and the Publisher for this Advanced Readers Copy of Strong Female Character by Fern Brady!
Was this review helpful?
Ummm, what is kind enough to say? Although I did not get far (too much angst and drama for me) I did get that the author was trying to find answers and workable solutions to 'fix' her life post autism diagnosis but I wonder why she was so set on finding out how to integrate/blend in with neurotypical society instead of embracing her obvious differences and using them to her benefit. Definitely not meaning this in a critical way, just curious. As the text was so chaotic and full of EVERYTHING IS JUST TOO MUCH, I have to add this book to my DNF pile. Hopefully, I can come back to it later and read just one or two pages at a time so as not to be overwhelmed by the author's highly emotional brain-drama to find the purpose of the book.
Was this review helpful?
much like my opinions when I read Hannah Gadsby's book, I felt very seen whilst reading Fern Brady's non-fiction. This is a book for the unpalatable autistics who have big destructive meltdowns and do horrible things to people because we just didn't have a fucking clue how to navigate the world as undiagnosed teenagers and young adults. For the kids you ended up wrongfully punished or stuck into mental health wards or programs because they didn't know what was wrong with you but they know you were wrong. But also being so detached from societal expectations, you're light years ahead of others when it comes to unpacking the bs you were taught because... we never really learned it in the first place. 
Whilst there were moments I felt uncomfortable with how certain things were worded (sometimes it would come off as fatphobic or ableist, and I couldn't really tell if these were past-Fern thoughts or present-Fern) I'm glad this book was written and really appreciate the research and citations that have gone into this book as well as the attempt to also acknowledge other marginalised autistic people.
Was this review helpful?
I'm not even finished with this book and I wanted to write a review immediately because I can hardly put the book down! Fern's vulnerability with sharing such an emotional journey is not taken lightly. She gives readers a front row seat to her autism diagnosis and the experience of getting there. As a viewer, I felt honored to be invited into her mind and experiences.
Was this review helpful?
What a phenomenal, touching, funny memoir! I hadn't previously heard of Fern Brady, but the book summary intrigued me. I'm so glad I picked this one up! Brady does an amazing job describing her life and experiences, as a female comedian diagnosed with autism as an adult. After the diagnosis, so many past experiences and reactions made sense. Brady is vulnerable and brutally honest. It kind of reminded me of Hannah Gadsby's memoir in terms of its depth and vulnerability. It was fascinating to me to consider how differently neurodivergent girls and women are understood and treated. It also made me consider how we treat others, too often not giving them the respect or kindness they're due, because they seem different or don't understand social cues or mores. I loved Fern Brady's memoir and openness. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC. All thoughts are my own.
Was this review helpful?
We need more of these stories. Stories from people with differently wired brains that our world is better for, if only we would listen. Fern Brady is a Scottish comedian diagnosed with autism as an adult. In her humorously insightful memoir Fern recounts her misunderstood childhood, misdiagnosis as a teen, and finally coming into her own as a neurodivergent woman. Fern speaks to the unique challenges of diagnosing women with Autism due to their “chameleon-like” ability to mask symptoms. She explores the way she encountered sexism related to her Autism which I found to be fascinating. I’m so thankful that Fern was able to articulate the vulnerabilities of her life and bravely share her experiences of living with Autism in this world.

Read this if:
-You want a window into the mind of a neurodiverse woman
-Self-deprecating humor gets a laugh out of you
-You appreciate raw and vulnerable memoirs

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I hadn't really heard about Fern Brady before reading the synopsis of Strong Female Character, but I immediately knew I wanted to read it!

I also had access to an audiobook copy of this book, so I listened to this on audio and loved that Fern Brady does the narration!!

overall, this was an intriguing and informative memoir. Brady holds back NOTHING with the reader and shares about a variety of experiences with readers, including her autism diagnosis in early adulthood.

If you're a fan of comedy and/or memoirs, I highly recommend giving Strong Female Character a try!

Thank you to the publisher and net galley for the gifted copy!
Was this review helpful?
I knew less than 10% into this book that it was going to be a five star read for me. I have a parallel story for every single story Fern told. Also the revelation that Hans Christian Andersen is presumed to have been autistic - and Ariel is presumed autistic as well (hello...humans are her special interest) - meant a lot to me as a life-long Ariel-obsessed human. This book comes with a number of trigger warnings and touches on a significant amount of traumas, but this is unsurprising given how long Fern lived as an undiagnosed autist. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
My favorite kind of books take me places I’ve never been and help me understand others and myself better. This wonderful book did just that. The author, Fern Brady, taught me so much about autism and the arduous process she went through to get diagnosed and treated. Brady is honest and funny as she bravely held nothing back sharing how it was to be on the spectrum as a kid and how she was treated by family, school, and peers. What an incredible person. The writing is top notch. I’m thinking back to the kids in my classes in school who struggled socially and wonder now…. 

This book is a gift and one I highly recommend for a book club - so much to discuss and learn and share.  

Heartfelt thanks to Harmony for this excellent book.
Was this review helpful?
As a fellow late-diagnosed autistic woman, I really enjoyed Strong Female Character.  Fern Brady is super candid about her struggles both pre-and post-diagnosis, and although she describes some internalized ableism that was hard to read about, it also rang true.  Brady uses humor superbly to describe coming to terms with her diagnosis, and overall I really enjoyed this book.
Was this review helpful?
4 stars 

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this book, and I can't wait to listen to the audiobook when it releases next week. This is one I won't forget for a long, long time. 

As a neurotypical individual who works at a college that serves a large neurodivergent population, I am always thrilled to learn more about experiences that are distinct from my own. In this memoir, Fern Brady takes readers into a space that is filled with an appealing and potentially unexpected mix of humor and heartache as she discusses the many signs that led her to realize she's autistic. Autistic women are a particularly interesting group to me because they are most likely to mask, and one of my favorite parts of this exploration is Brady's discussion of exactly this topic. She makes clear the distinctions between what she was actually thinking, how she responded, and how she - at times - worked to cover up all of this so that she could just go unnoticed, and this is an informative and vulnerable conversation to be sure. 

I really enjoyed the mixture of frankness and humor, and while it was tough at times to stay on track with the tone in the e-book, that's more of a processing issue for me than it is an issue for the writer or editor. It also really makes me more enthusiastic about listening to Brady tell her own story, with her intentional inflections, etc., in the audio version. 

I recommend this enthusiastically to folks who are interested in learning about an autistic woman's candid experience. Prospective readers should be mindful of a TW on physical violence and generally that Brady does not story tell with much filtering.
Was this review helpful?
Males do not have a monopoly on autism spectrum! You are not alone!
This exceptional woman has made her own way while overcoming much more than the usual misogynistic hurdles to become an outstanding comedian and voice of activism. Hear her struggles in this memoir and laugh/cry with her as she slogs through the mire of psychiatrists' blindness and refusal to think outside their box. Wonderful!
I requested and received an EARC from Rodale Inc/Harmony via NetGalley. Thank you!
Was this review helpful?
WOW!  This was a roller coaster of a read.  The author is wicked smart and funny at times while sharing her poignant story.  She is also painfully honest. I am hopeful that her insights help others feel empathy for those who are neurodiverse. They have gifts that enrich society too.  I am rooting for Fern and for those I have known but may not have understood as well as I could.
Was this review helpful?