Coming Undone: A Memoir by Terri White – Book Review

Title: Coming Undone

Author: Terri White

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Canongate

Publication Date: 15th April 2021

Rating: 5/5



To everyone else, Terri White appeared to be living the dream – living in New York City, with a top job editing a major magazine. In reality, she was struggling with the trauma of an abusive childhood and rapidly skidding towards a mental health crisis that would land her in a psychiatric ward.

Coming Undone is Terri’s story of her unravelling, and her precarious journey back from a life in pieces.


I finished Coming Undone over a week ago and have been trying to articulate my thoughts on it into some kind of sense for a review that will do it justice – I’m not sure I can manage to fully do that but here goes. The book is a memoir and follows Terri through an extreme mental health crisis which leads to her being admitted to a psychiatric ward. It focuses on her traumatic childhood and the way it has shaped her journey through life and was impacting her current, most recent unravelling.

Coming Undone has to be one of, if not the most, raw and unflinching books I’ve ever read. I will say here that before you read it, do look up the trigger warnings if you have any because it does not hold back and I know I found some parts tough to read (although I’m very glad I did). It takes the reader inside Terri’s darkest and most self-destructive thoughts and she is brutally honest about every single aspect of the way she came to be in the situation we find her at the start of the book. Nothing here is sugarcoated in any way shape or form – it is graphic, especially when it comes to self-harm and suicidal ideation, and it can feel like a lot but I really think that’s what makes it such a powerful read. I think it needs to be graphic for this woman to be able to tell her story properly and I think others who are currently or have in the past suffered struggles with their mental health will find this book a cathartic read. I massively admire her bravery and strength in being able to put so much of herself and her very personal story on these pages and in such an eloquent, painful and affecting manner. It sounds strange, given the subject matter, but it’s also genuinely beautifully written. I really cannot recommend Coming Undone highly enough. It is a work of immense bravery and candour without the slightest hint of superficiality. Incredible, powerful and intensely moving.

I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

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