lip lit: worthless
At the heart of any great book, whether fiction or non-fiction, sci-fi or drama, lies a character arc that we can personally relate to on some level. The core of all good books often pulls at our heartstrings at a moment’s notice, leaving us breathless and wanting more.
With Robyn Hennessy’s memoir, Worthless, the average reader may not feel they immediately identify with the story and the characters within it. But never fear: with patience comes great reward, and with Worthless, the hard work of both the writer and the reader pays off greatly.
Worthless is the real-life story of Robyn’s struggle with sexual abuse, eating disorders, bullying, depression, self-harm, criminal activity, and drug addiction. Told in its rawest form, we are brought face-to-face with all the terrible and heart-wrenching moments of Robyn’s, and her twin sister Ashleigh’s, life growing up in Surrey, England. At age nine, the twins begin to starve themselves and worry about their weight so that they can continue to compete in judo competitions. At the ripe age of 10, they are sexually abused and raped by two boys in their local neighbourhood, not once, not twice, but multiple times. From there, Robyn’s life spirals out of control as she is continually abused, bullied by her classmates and friends, and then as she starts a long battle with drug abuse beginning with Ritalin and marijuana and ending with the king of all drugs, meth.
Robyn’s story is one that feels unreal at first. It’s hard to comprehend that all of these traumas could occur to such a young child in our modern world, let alone in the developed country of England. Yet, through Robyn’s honest storytelling we are forced to wake up from our comforting dreams to face the reality of what she’s been through. There’s no turning back from the horrors of Robyn’s life once you open this book. It must be battled page by page. In this way, Worthless puts its reader through the ordeals of the writer. However, surprisingly, it is not with pain and heartache that we continue to read, but with a sense of hope and a growing understanding of whom this person is and why we are fixated on knowing her, helping her, and believing in her.
My own personal battles with depression, abuse, trauma, and drug addiction were, of course, hinted at throughout my reading of Worthless. Although this may seem to be the main reason I wanted to read the book and why I was able to get through it with a sense of understanding, I believe that the readability of the book is not just for those who have gone through similar events. You see, we all have suffered in one form or another, whether it be through depression, trauma, or heartache; it is the human condition to fall down and to do our best to stand back up again. It’s the common story arc of a beloved character beaten down, and then triumphantly, against all odds, regaining strength and a sense of purpose. We root for the underdog because they are us.
Robyn is all of us and we are all her. Her bravery shines through in her willingness to share all of the worst parts of her life, and we are right there along with her and her journey towards recovery. Worthless is well worth your time, and it’s for the everyday person, as well as for those recovering from the worst events that mankind allows us to go through, such as sexual abuse, depression, and bullying. Although the book will make you feel at odds with humanity, through it all, you realise that there is good out there somewhere. All it takes is a little patience to find it.
Brown Dog, 2015