A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year

Hundreds of Stories on the Pandemic

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Pub Date 15 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2022


The tenth book in the Six-Word Memoir series tells the story of a world we never expected to be in and can’t stop talking about. Told through the lens of students, teachers, and parents around the world, A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year offers hundreds of inspirational, playful, and profound takes on life during the pandemic. For some, this book will be a window. For others, a mirror of their own experience. For all of us, A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year is a time capsule to be read, shared, and discussed and is certain to prompt friends, family, and neighbors to ask each other: “What’s your six-word pandemic story?”

The tenth book in the Six-Word Memoir series tells the story of a world we never expected to be in and can’t stop talking about. Told through the lens of students, teachers, and parents around the...

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ISBN 9781970183009
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Featured Reviews

What a wonderfully poignant, clever way to record and remember these endlessly unprecedented times! Not only were the bite-size memoirs full of wit and wisdom, but arranged by theme or relationship (it was fun to see kids' thoughts next to their parents') they had an extra layer of meaning.

I loved the art and the essays by teachers/school workers. This is absolutely essential reading for educators, but anyone can appreciate this unique perspective on what we're all going through. I also think kids would enjoy hearing a sampling of these in a class read. It would be interesting to talk about what they relate to and what they would add.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

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CW: COVID-19 pandemic

Thank you to NetGalley and Six-Word Memoirs for an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This time capsule of a book asked people, "What's your six-word pandemic story?" This was specific to education - teachers, students, and parents. As a teacher through all of this - and currently teaching remotely - I knew I had to read this. It was refreshing to see some of my thoughts and feelings reflected in the words of others, that amidst the chaos, we "get" each other. I also like the six-word concept in general.

You're linked to schools? Read this

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arry Smith has edited and written several books of Six Word Memoirs. THIS book is by students, parents and teachers about the pandemic year.

Different fonts are used. Beautiful colored pages are created by students at Kansas City Art Institute. Families’ memoirs are on the same page.

A variety of teachers wrote a few paragraphs about their experiences — the librarian, the music teacher, the physics teacher, a teacher of incarcerated students. Each had to create ways to overcome barriers given during the year.

Unusual and delightful book.

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The year was 2020, of course— the year that the Covid pandemic changed the operating rules for so many students, educators, and parents. Using the clever vehicle of collecting Six-Word-Memoirs, the book becomes a poignant journal of a true plague year. The selection and organization of the entries is inspired, and the design of the book is colorful and upbeat enough to balance the prescient and sobering thoughts. A touching collection.

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These six word memoirs by students, parents, and teachers reflecting on the pandemic, for me was unique. As one teacher said, using only six words teaches students to break things down into smaller bites. While reading the book, I thought this most of helped so many people, take them away from all that was happening around them, to change the way they think about it to sum it up in a six-word sentence.
It was nice to read the stories, their six-word sentence, and it got some excited, and it was a way of taking a terrible, horrible, no good year, and make it memorable. I think this will become a treasured time capsule, of making it through the pandemic.
I received an ARC from six-word memoirs through NetGalley and I highly recommend you read this with your family. It seemed to take me away from all that was going on and into a quiet place.

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Teachers and students share their thoughts and experiences about the year of 2020 - COVID-19, quarantining, online school, etc. in six words. A really quick book that was a bit of everything: funny, sad, thought-provoking and emotional.
This was my first encounter with the six word memoir books; it was fascinating to see how little is needed to convey so much.
Thanks to #netgalley and #sixwordmemoirs for this ARC of #aterriblehorriblenogoodyear in exchange for an honest review.

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A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year took me back to the first few months of the pandemic when we were all trying to get used to being at home more and doing what needed to be done to stop the virus.
Now for some of us were still having to do that, and I am one of those people. Because of this reading how so many other people were feeling the same thing that I am and was still feeling.

This pandemic made us all realize and change some things in our life. From trying to figure out how to do almost everything remotely. But it also made us realize the important things in life and the things that mean the most to us. From family and friends to getting to go out when we choose to instead of just when we have to do. It's been a lot for all of us and it's been a very memorable and teaching experience.

I felt so much connection to so many of the 6-word stories and I loved all the little art pieces thrown in to illustrate some of the stories.

Overall I enjoyed and appreciated this book. It helps show that we're all not alone and it's not over yet, but we've learned a lot in the past almost 2 years now, and we can do this and make it finally end hopefully soon.

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This book was fantastic surprise!

I didn't expect much of Six-Word Memoirs - after all, how much can one say with 6 words? Well, I was wrong, because summing up a pandemic in six words really allows writers to dig deep into the experience to extract the most relevant phrase, or feeling, or event of the lockdowns. Some sentences even came from 3 or 5-year-olds and were incredibly thoughtful!

Put together, these Six-Word Memoirs really capture this unique moment in history through the lens of children, parents and teachers, with clever, deep or funny short sentences.

"Big plans today: oh, never mind"
"Social distancing myself from the fridge"
"Lost some friends and found myself"
"Hun, you're still on mute"
"Extrovert became introvert. Hesitant to revert."

While the book could have gotten slightly repetitive with only these short, 6-words sentences, they are interspersed with drawings and testimonies from teachers that allow us an even better dive into the experiences of those affected with school closures. We lived through the same pandemic, and being an university student, I expected to imagine well what school closures would be like, yet reading these sentences allowed me to better grasp how momentous the pandemic was for many of these pupils, teachers and parents.

*I received an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion*

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If I want to share my love for this book, I'll need more than 6 words! We did this activity at a staff meeting this year, and I truly enjoyed the challenge. In our overly verbose culture, spending some time thinking about what you want to say in a concise (and witty!) way has immense value. I read many that made me laugh, but a few that pulled at my heartstrings as well. This book touched my teacher soul.

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A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year by Six-Word Memoirs is a creative, insightful, thought-provoking book told from the point of view from teachers, students, and parents. Each entry in this book told in six words gives readers a glimpse of what life is like during a pandemic.

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This book spoke many of the thoughts and feelings I have had over the last year and a half as an educator. I heard my students' voices through the six-word memoirs that were included in this book. As adults, we tend to forget the profound thoughts and insights students have. This book brings those thoughts and insights to light. These memoirs made me chuckle, tear up, and stop to ponder. Thank you for sharing such thoughts with the world!

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Mask up. Volume Down. Class Continues.

I was inspired by the 6-word memoirs in A Terrible, Horrible No Good Year: Hundreds of Stories on the Pandemic by Teachers, Students & Parents. Thank you to Netgalley and Six-Word Memoirs for sharing this book with me. So many poignant and creative memoirs that shed light on the state of education amidst the pandemic. I lived it and loved this!

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Thanks for opportunity to read from NetGalley. It was a quick read that added some humor to a hard topic.
6 words from children and teachers about the pandemic. Enjoyed reading it. Had some laughs I . Will for more 6 word stories.

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November 2006...a date that should live in...whatever the opposite of "infamy" is...that's when Larry Smith started SixWordMemoir.com, and unleashed the haiku poet in every English-speaker's soul. My own first one: "Not quite what I had planned" submitted on Twitter in 2013.

Six words doesn't leave room for prolixity and overdramatization. It's what makes the idea so irresistible. It's what makes the original challenge, issued legendarily to Ernest Hemingway, to tell a six-word story (his, if you need refreshing, was "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn") so deeply memorable. We're creatures of story and we love to immerse ourselves in language. When we take a short, sharp plunge into the Otherness of others, we're happy, happy souls. As witness to this truth, the collection I'm reviewing is the tenth brought into print! This is like that delicious, anonymous, yet public confessional, PostSecret. It's similarly public, it's more concise, and it's possibly even more revealing...but it's all part of the same urge, the need I know so many feel to unburden themselves, to celebrate their milestones, and to be seen and heard where it feels safe, especially when it doesn't feel safe to be any of those things in their community.

So here we are in a pandemic. Over a year without anything like normalcy. I guess it's no surprise to anyone that there were some feelings that needed to be bled out, and SixWordMemoir was exactly the right tool to lance the thing. The choice to direct this collection at educators, students, and parents trapped in the nightmare of too much togetherness plus too little social contact was inevitable and also genius. I read these wondering how the hell I would even begin to cope with kids, job, spouse, house, and the free-floating anxiety of not knowing what the hell was happening and how soon it would kill someone I love!

For a measly $2.99 on your Kindle, get one for yourself. But if you want to give a paper copy to someone special, ORDER NOW! (And the tree book would be great because illustrations are just *better* on a paper page.)

Some SixWordMemoirs to show you what I mean:
<blockquote><B>Six feet never felt so far. — Ava Russ, 15</b>
A young woman whose entire adolescence was interrupted by this awful event makes her private pain part of a national conversation. I admire her. I know many, many young people will relate to her.
<B>It goes over your nose, pal. — Stina Perkins</b>
Yes. Yes, it does.
<B>Getting handle on pandemic. Need lid. — Krystyna Fedosejevs</b>
Budding philosopher. Also comedian. Needs job.
<B>For sale: prom dress, never worn. — Caroline Richardson, 19</b>
Extra poignance points for emulating the Hemingway original. Brava. Now go get your MFA.
<B>How can emptiness feel so heavy? — Lincoln H.
Turning friends to strangers...all alone. — Chelsea P.
Not happy. Not sad. Just empty. — Tristan N.</b>
These are all culled from the same elementary school. No one ever gets to tell me how kids aren't ready for the way the real world works, or that they don't have the skills to process the adult world. This gives those lies their brightest exit sign.</blockquote>
I was very touched by the essays written by teachers and other education professionals. They're not long, maybe 500 words at most, but they pack a wallop in their palpable grief and frustration at not being able to do what they love doing. One librarian here in New York shared that their students were able to come together to have Zoom sessions (and may I just say that Zoom has earned my undying gratitude for keeping me in touch with my Young Gentleman Caller on the regular?) with writers and poets after reading their work. One such writer was Luke Dani Blue, whose story about a trans person crossing the country (Canada, one presumes, as they're based in Alberta) by Greyhound bus elicited this question from a student:
<blockquote>"You and your characters seem to thrive and dream of uncertain circumstances because they hold so much possibility, yet very often in life we are disappointed and miscalculate the trajectory of our new paths. What would you say is your margin of error when it comes to dream versus actual trajectory?"
Blue was so stunned by the question, all they could say was, "Woah, I feel so seen by that question. I'm going to have to think about that one."</blockquote>
Yes, "seen" is the right word for it. Seen, seen through, seen off, seen! Seen indeed. Teenagers are, and we forget this at our societal peril, adults without perspective or impulse control. Their intelligence will never be sharper. Their training in how to use it is all we have left to offer them...and this goddamned plague means we can not offer it to them in the same, personal way. But, and this is the reason I bring it up, permaybehaps this new, screen-intermediated way will offer the young learners some advantages. I doubt that question would've come out of the asker's mouth with that level of fluency. A chance to think about it, try different ways of phrasing it, probably made that the best question it could possibly be.

So there's a hopeful side to this misery after all....
<blockquote><B>Now I'm a barber. Who knew? — John Tehan</b>
Golden lining. Career opportunity? Probably not.
<B>Masks protect us from farts, too! — Ruby Bryan</b>
Special Ed teacher whose kids are profoundly disabled. But still kids...farts are hilarious to kids.
<B>Numbers rose, but SUN did too. — Paloma Lenz</b>
Yes. It did indeed. And it rose a little higher for me today. Thanks, Paloma, although we'll never meet you've made an old, disabled stranger a lot happier than he was before he read your words.</blockquote>

That, in a nutshell, is the magic of the internet.

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For those who are just learning about this 6-word phenomenon, you are in for a treat! This book is the newest installment in a series of 6-word memoirs inspired, so the story goes, by Earnest Hemingway. These memoirs are the reflections of students, teachers, and parents during and about their COVID-19 school-related experience. Art and essays, also reflecting on the pandemic learning experience, are interspersed among these observant and heart-wrenching memoirs. Although I am not a student or teacher in the traditional sense, these shared experiences recalled my own pandemic life (past and present)--both positive and negative. These memoirs are observant, inspired, and heart-wrenching. They are clever, brilliant, concise, touching, funny, and inspiring. I highly recommend!
I received an advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I just reviewed A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year by Six-Word Memoirs. #NetGalley

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I love this book. It was sent to me
Electronically from Netgalley for reviewed. Although I am retired, I still teach on FaceTime grands. Some in person grands. This book is fantastic. For parents and kids...for teachers...don’t miss this one. I would give it ten stars...

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Heartfelt, poignant, and funny, these six word memoirs by students, parents, and teachers reflecting on the pandemic we’re everything I didn’t know I wanted to read.

I loved how there were so many walks of life represented, including incarcerated teens and their teacher. It proves, once again, that while we are all different, we are all very much the same. Pandemic times have really divided our nation, and yet the emotions felt should serve to unite instead, if only everyone were willing to actually listen to their neighbor.

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“Numbers rose, but SUN did, too. - Paloma Lenz”

That’s one we all should remember.

Hemingway started it, famous story goes.
Challenge: write novel, only six words.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Pandemic project challenged kids, teachers, parents.

Results terrific! Thoughtful, sad, funny, universal.

Illustrations, essays. Classroom kits are free.

Samples follow. Try this at home!

“Well, sure didn’t see that coming. - Alexis Davidson”

Mask on. Zoom on. PJs on. - Sami Bell, 10

Noun: Zoom ... Verb: Zoom ... Adjective: Zoom - Jennifer Schneider, teacher

Getting handle on pandemic. Need lid. - Krystyna Fedosejevs

Quota of family time was exceeded. - Dana Calvo

DADDY, go put on some PANTS! - Hazel Hoffman, 11

For Sale: prom dress, never worn. - Caroline Richardson, 19

Finally meeting neighbors after eight years. - Jaylene Henderson

Alexa, play wash your hands, please. - Zoey Valles, 5

Finally finished YouTube. Ending is disappointing. - Clara Bijl, Isa’s mom

Wonderful project and everyone enjoyed it.

I did, too, and so will you.

Now you know how, try it!

Thanks to #NetGalley and Six-Word Memoirs.

(Best on paper or big screen)

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With 3 kids at home finishing out the school year of 19/20 and then teaching during 20/21, I remember the struggles, feelings of overwhelm, and disbelief that this is what school had become. But, I also remember resilience, perseverance, and a community of support like I had never felt before.

This is the tenth book in the Six-Word Memoir series and focuses on the parent, student, and teacher perspective told with just 6 words. The six-word story was made popular by Hemingway who was once challenged to write a novel with just six words. He wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Since then, many classrooms have challenged students to write their own six-word stories. In fact, I was just given this assignment in a writing class I took this summer. I had to write both a scary six-word story and a funny one.

Rain, howling wind. House is gone.
No tip. Barista adds vinegar instead.

It was a fun assignment and one that I encourage other teachers to try in their classrooms. In this book, students, teachers, and parents both in the Midwest and on the East and West Coasts were given the challenge to share about the pandemic school year in a six-word memoir. Their perceptions and feelings resonated with me both as a parent and a teacher. Some of them I’m sharing below:

“Numbers rose, but sun did, too. ~ Larry Smith
“Synchronous. Asynchronous. Hybrid. Virtual. Zoom hell. ~Shelly Moran
“Protected kids mental health, neglected mine.” ~ Kelly Croasmun
“Pandemic epiphany: teachers are sorely underpaid.” ~ Mishell DeFelice
“Grace is more important than grades.” ~ Lisa Casillas

There were so many stories that had me laughing and crying. A music teacher who longed to share music with kids and was used to passing instruments and letting kids try making music was suddenly teaching kids over zoom which isn’t ideal for collective singing and playing music. Even once they had returned to in-person they were still forbidden to sing or even pass instruments. Instead, she turned to history and teaching kids about music greats, listening to their music, and allowing kids to study their favorite musicians. I laughed out loud with the teacher who works in a behavior classroom and found that masks not only kept her from getting COVID but also kept her from smelling her students’ farts.

From March 2020 to the present day, schools administrators, teachers, parents, and students have traveled through new experiences no one ever expected. Did some good things come out of this experience? Sure. We have learned new ways and maybe even better ways to teach and communicate with students through different sources of technology. Did we also suffer greatly? Yes. I still see ramifications of the pandemic in both elementary and high school classrooms that students may never overcome. Did we all make mistakes? Of course. But, we also learned so much from each other, and in reading this book, I learned that kids are smarter than we realize, more perceptive, and yet are quite adaptable. They learn from us and we learn from them.

If you have a teacher in your life, I recommend sharing this book with them. Let them know you appreciated all their efforts during the pandemic and maybe they will be encouraged to share their experiences and feelings in a six-word memoir. If you know of a classroom that might like to try writing their own six-word memoirs, but sure to check out the website, https://sixinschools.com/ to get their own classroom kit.

Six-Word Memoirs® is a simple way to engage and inspire anyone and everyone to get to the essence of who they are and what matters most.

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