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Women and Neurodiversity: Strong Female Character by Fern Brady

Who should read it: Anyone who wants to learn a bit more about neurodiversity and autism.

Why you should read it: This is a refreshing and honest memoir about Fern’s struggles with undiagnosed autism. The dark moments are expertly balanced with comedy, making it a quick and enjoyable read.

'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.'

You may already know Fern Brady from her work as a comedian, but her memoir is a must-read. Strong Female Character is a game-changing memoir on Fern’s life experiences and her experiences of sexism and neurodiversity. She uses her voice as a neurodivergent, working-class woman from Scotland to bring issues such as sex work, abusive relationships and her time spent in teenage mental health units to the page.

Brady dissects societal norms fabulously sharing some excellent examples of things many of us wouldn’t think twice about, calling out how ridiculously pointless society is for lying out of politeness, backstabbing and creating hierarchies for everything. She also takes a sledgehammer to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope which is often mistakenly applied to neurodiverse women. It also looks at how her lack of regard for social expectations ultimately meant she surpassed any perceived limitations of what a Scottish working-class woman can do.

I was first introduced to Fern on Taskmaster and thought she was absolutely hilarious. When I saw that she had written a book, I knew I had to pick it up. I finished this book in 24 hours and I haven't done that for a long time. It is so easy to read, it just feels like you're chatting to a friend. Fern was undiagnosed for most of her life and she details the struggle with refreshing candour giving an open and honest insight into her life as an autistic woman. Sadly, mainstream allistic society (people who are not on the autistic spectrum) still struggles to recognise autism or how to deal with it.

This book is a fantastic examination of what it means to be female and autistic. Fern’s personality shines throughout and it's truly laugh out loud funny. Its winning awards left, right and centre and they are completed deserved. If you are looking for a memoir (or even if you’re not), pick this up next!

Brady, F. (2024) Strong female character. London: Brazen.



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