Cover Image: Coming Undone

Coming Undone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Trigger warning: Explicit descriptions of sexual and physical abuse, self-harm, addiction and suicidal ideation.

Born to a teenage mum in the small village of Inkersall, just north of the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield, Terri White’s childhood is a nightmare of violence, poverty and abuse (two of her mother’s boyfriends sexually abuse her), leaving her feeling that her life ended at the age of five. 

She works hard to attend university, then moves to London where she begins her career in journalism, quickly rising through the ranks, while increasingly seeking escape through drink, drugs and self-harming.

In 2012, a successful magazine editor, she moves to New York, the glittering skyline of her dreams, to begin a new job, yet she quickly begins unravelling due to her mental state, addictions and unsustainable lifestyle.

Eighteen months later she returns to London afraid of what will happen to her if she stays in New York. She falls into an impossible love affair in London and when she is offered a top editorial position in New York she returns once again, putting distance between her and the heartbreak that threatens to destroy her. 

In New York, at the age of thirty-four, she is hospitalized after an overdose and forced to receive treatment in a psychiatric ward before she returns to England and the position of editor-in-chief of the world’s biggest movie magazine.

‘Coming Undone’ is a powerful, eloquent and searing memoir about life lived in the depths of pain and self-destruction. It is often an uncomfortable, harrowing read. White has offered up her most private experiences to scrutiny in the hope that her past will be of help to anyone in a similar situation. I would not recommend ‘Coming Undone’ to anyone who may be triggered by graphic descriptions of sexual and physical abuse, self-harm, addiction and suicidal ideation.

A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @CanongateBooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Coming Undone by Terri White is one of the most compelling memoirs I have read. Humorous at times, painful throughout, yet ultimately uplifting and empowering.

When I read that the book would highlight alcoholism and mental health issues as well as early life trauma, I was unsure what to expect. Many such books have such an eye toward the larger message, whatever that particular book's message is, that we lose some of the personal elements. By that, I don't mean we lose sight of the person writing the memoir but rather that we don't always get much of that person at the specific moments in their past that they recount. Such is not the case here. This is both inspirational on the bigger picture level as well as heartrending on the personal in-the-moment level.

Early in the book, when describing her thoughts and feelings as she realized she was not going to be turning and walking out the door, I felt every bit as trapped and confused as she did. At that moment I knew this memoir had me hooked. The writing both conveyed what she was going through at the time while also offering reflective thoughts from the other side. 

Aside from having the utmost respect and compassion for White, I am also in awe of her ability to present such moments from her life with strength and a strong sense of who she is. 

Highly recommended for readers of memoirs in general as well as those who seek insightful accounts of abuse, alcoholism, and mental health.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Great memoir about resiliency and success doesn’t erase past trauma.  This writer has an uncanny ability to draw us into her stories and make us feel apart of them.  Real and harrowing I recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?