Stroll through a Barnes and Noble in late May, you’ll undoubtedly see loads of gift books for graduates – lots of inspirational tomes that promise lives of excitement and adventure once they get those diplomas in their hands. And while it makes sense that you’d want to reassure young graduates, despite the reality of their precarious situation once they leave the safe confines of college.
At first glance, the title of the book sounds like a dour rebuke to Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign; Instead author Alida Nugent shares a withering and realistic look at life in your twenties in her Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood. Nugent writes in a wise, yet funny voice, as she details her experience of trying to establish herself, after leaving school with an expensive, if not terribly practical degree. Her experience is a growing concern for many college graduates who find themselves struggling in the new economy. Quarter-life crises have been reported where twentysomethings find themselves trying to find their place in life.
Nugent’s life is peppered with career and romantic disappointments. Intent on striking it out on her own in New York, she finds herself returning home with little-to-no career prospects. For her peers, Nugent’s situation is all too familiar; they can take comfort in her humorous way at chronicling her life – she doesn’t waste time wallowing in self-pity; instead, her survival instincts are admirable: whether it’s writing about how to find an apartment in New York, or surviving on minimum wage, and fending off student loan officers while still managing to maintain a decent social life, Nugent’s ability to adapt is fantastic.
Despite the harsh knocks that New York lobbed at Nugent – she has a great and profound affection and admiration for the city. In a passage that will remind some of Sam Selvon’s modernist paen to London in The Lonely Londoners, Nugent writes of her love for New York City – it’s messy, complicated and fully recognizes the darker side of New York – it’s a Valentine, but it’s not pie-in-the-sky idealism. But it’s real. Much like the rest of this excellent book.
Click here to buy Alida Nugent’s Don’t Worry, It Gets Better: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood on amazon.com.