Book Review: Loud in the House of Myself

12 Feb

When examining my reading goals and desires for 2011, I decided that I wanted to read more memoirs and autobiographies.  Thanks to some help from Goodreads lists and the ever-wonderful Jamie, I have compiled a list of some I would like to tackle this year.  When I heard about Loud in the House of Myself, I knew it was one I wanted to add to the list.

Stacy grew up in small-town Arkansas, born the first child of a truck driver father and a stay-at-home mother seemingly obsessed with her youngest son.  Being more on the artistic side than the athletic, Stacy was deemed an outcast among her peers early on in their school careers, most likely contributing to the onset of a very long battle with anorexia and bulimia.  Misdiagnosed and mistreated most of her life, Stacy struggled with bipolar tendencies, as well as borderline personality disorder.  This “memoir of a strange girl” captures just what it was like to walk in her shoes, as well as what she did to cope and eventually find victory over her inner self.

From the beginning of the book, Stacy is honest about the people in her life, how they treated her, how their words and actions affected her, and how her words and actions affected them.  From her parents to classmates to most of her therapists and psychiatrists, there are many people who had a negative impact on her.  It seems as if she had many people that she could turn the blame on, passing on any responsibility for her disorders and illnesses, but she never does.  She recognizes and acknowledges exactly what went on in her head and the decisions she made in accordance with that.  This was my biggest fear going into this book, and I was thrilled to see that the author handled this aspect in a very mature manner.

There is no doubt that the author can express herself.  Individual scenes written from her life bring us straight into her head.  When she was in a state of mania, we as the reader fly high with her.  When she was depressed and medicated, we seemingly find ourselves drained and without hope.  She is raw and honest with her words, exposing herself for the purpose of a greater understanding of mental illness and coping with it.  Included throughout the scenes and in depth in the epilogue are explanations of the illnesses and disorders that she was eventually diagnosed with.  Much to my disappointment, these explanations did not flow well with the scenes at all.  In my opinion, this information should definitely be included in the memoir, but made the writing seem choppy in the way that it was presented.

One of my favorite aspects of her life is how she learned to cope through body art, namely tattoos.  Now in her early 40’s, she has the majority of her body covered in tattoos documenting her experiences, the people she encountered along the way, and the roller coaster of emotions she has endured through.  At the beginning of each chapter, there is a short blurb describing tattoos that she has, in a seeming effort to correlate that with the part of her life that follows in the chapter.  Some of the blurbs are a bit odd and don’t seem to flow with the chapter, but maybe that is just me not making the connections.  In the end, I found these blurbs to be helpful in understanding the author and wish that there would be more explanation of how tattoos have brought her peace and stability.

Stacy Pershall’s life and struggles need to be shared.  It is memoirs such as this one that will bring greater understanding to those with mental illnesses and those without.

Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl

by Stacy Pershall

Published by W. W. Norton & Company

January 31 2011

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Posted by on February 12, 2011 in Book Review, Memoir


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