Review: This Does Not Leave This House by Julie Coons

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FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

There is more to the title of Julie Coons’s memoir This Does Not Leave This House. Growing up, she used to hear those words a lot. I personally know the effect abusive words can have on a person’s mind and the damage that words can really do. Coons starts readers off with two really disparaging sentences being spoken to her. “Your father never wanted you” and “I wish you had died at birth”. Convinced by a legitimate spiritual medium, Coons went on to write a book in the hopes that she will be able to help others heal.

The author had been married to an abusive man. To make readers understand why she was in a relationship with such a man in the first place, she first gives readers a glimpse of her childhood. In Catholic School, she would learn what tragic outcomes bullying can lead to. In her own home, she would live with a mother who showed no signs of loving her. At the age of fifteen, she would have a kidney attack and an out-of-body experience. As a premed student at the University of Oregon, she would be raped and loose her dream of becoming a doctor. She would quit school and go on to have a good job in a bank. She would eventually marry and have a daughter by a man who would physically abuse her.

Two years old in the 1960s, the author was diagnosed with an illness that affected her kidneys. Though the author would eventually recover, she would always find herself battling with extremely painful kidney infections. The author goes on to give us a good example of her mother’s uncaring behavior towards her and we can clearly see – through various other examples too – that her mother was the type who made it a point to break down her daughter’s confidence every time she opened her mouth.

Luckily for the author, there were women in her family that gave her the love that her mother didn’t. “They showed me an example of what a good, loving parent looked like, and I always patterned myself after these fine women.” With her own daughter, she could follow the examples set by women which included two of her aunts and her grandmother. From this, I could easily see that the author’s mother did indeed dislike her and she would continue to say and do things just to hurt the author. Her mother would eventually be diagnosed with some form of depression. Further questions are brought up for the reader when the author shows that her mother actually hated her own parents.

The author’s father is an interesting figure to take a look at. I actually laughed thinking about him and its all thanks to the author and how she usually writes of a clothing store her father managed, never naming it. Because her mother liked to keep up a prosperous appearance by “dripping in diamonds”, her father worked hard to keep her mother doing just that. The author reveals that she suspected that her father was working for the Mafia. Thinking about this revelation, and exactly how the author would write about him, you know, I had to wonder myself. Like I said, interesting. “You are not hamburger, you are steak.” Something the author’s old man says that sticks with her throughout her adult years.

The good thing that came out of the author’s marriage to Steve – the husband that abused her and told her that if she ever left he would kill her – is Stephanie, the daughter they had together. It’s horrible to learn what Steve did to her, but I felt that there was still more the author could’ve done to drive home the impact and scale of the emotions she felt. At least one chapter should’ve been entirely dedicated to show the side of Steve that the author fell in love with and chose to marry. Often, what hurts abused victims the most is that their abusers are people they had a different opinion of. A good opinion that, when the abuser finally shows his true colors, the abused feels a deep sense of betrayal.

When you are young and you start getting abused and you don’t know how to handle it, you start blaming yourself for being too weak or stupid to defend yourself. As you grow older, you start to repeat things to yourself and in a way, you start to belittle yourself along with everyone else that doesn’t like you. Thus, the author offers the following solution: “Change the message in your head from negative to positive and a whole new world of opportunities will open up.” I will definitely try this from now on because I’ve always felt like I’m a guy living in an eggshell. A soft tap with a fork, and I break. I’m still learning to turn that eggshell exterior of mine into concrete and this book has helped me see a lot of faults of my own that I need to work on if I am to prevent people from getting in my head so easily.

The trouble with non-fiction memoirs such as these that I’ve always found is that when you, as a reader, are yourself dealing with such things as anxiety and depression, reading becomes a journey filled with gloomy thoughts. The author scatters various humorous scenes throughout to help battle the thoughts such readers might have. Her mother hitting on her boyfriend being a good example.

Julie Coons offers her story with a real person approach, thus a person looking for those well-educated type of narrative voices might want to look elsewhere. The pages are packed with emotion. Even those subtle ones where something clearly hurtful is said and you can see how used to those type of words the author has gotten. Truly, I would recommend this book not just to victims of abuse, but to those that are inclined to verbally or physically bully those that they are supposed to care about too.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Date Published: January 9, 2018
Genre: Parenting
Pages: 194
View on Amazon


4 thoughts on “Review: This Does Not Leave This House by Julie Coons

  1. Excellent and thorough review! It’s hard to write good reviews of memoirs that are so deeply emotional and deal with tough topics like this, but you do it so well. This one sounds really interesting but I’ve found I have to limit some of these “gloomier” ones even with the glimpses of humor here and there, for reasons including those you mention.

    Liked by 2 people

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