Behind The Pretty Doors

A Novel Laced with Poetry

Non-Fiction - Self Help
288 Pages
Reviewed on 01/24/2021
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Author Biography

"Behind The Pretty Doors" is a piercing memoir that balances prose and poetry in an expulsion of a lifetime of events and emotions. The lessons shared could be the validation you need to unshackle yourself and discover the stillness of peace. This memoir displays the stifled childhood of a family subjected to a substance abusive parent. The ripples roll throughout the life of Michelle Hancock, whose words jolt the reader into examining their own thoughts.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

Behind The Pretty Doors by Michelle Hancock is a captivating mix of poems and personal memoirs encompassing the emotionally turbulent life of Michelle Hancock from childhood to adulthood. Born into a house filled with abuse, terror and uncertainty, Michelle reveals the brutal and painful truth of living under the control of an alcoholic father. The violence and constant abuse undermined the foundations of Michelle's self-worth. She believed that when she met her rock in her husband John and started a family, all her worries would disappear. Follow her journey through mental illness, grief, and addictions as she discovers the importance of following your own dreams and unique path when her walls of self-preservation finally crumble. Discover how Michelle finds the courage and strength to learn to love herself again and find the freedom she has always deserved.

Behind The Pretty Doors by Michelle Hancock is a very emotional collection of poetry and personal stories. The use of analogies really made the accounts of abuse quite disturbingly vivid. Michelle has a beautiful grasp of the English language and the emotions she felt during her childhood and her amazing battle to overcome years of torment are brought to life in her poetry. I thought the way the memoir was tied into the connecting poem was very effective. Pop! Golden Unexpected Trigger sums up the harsh reality of suffering at the hands of an abusive parent perfectly. There are some quite difficult accounts read, such as being stranded on the side of the road, the attitude of the authorities towards domestic violence victims and how alcoholism affects the children. I loved the poem about healing a broken heart in Inhale. My favorite poem was Fallen Angels: 'How do I accept warm hands to hold? When mine have been empty and cold.' I thought John, her husband, was amazing, and certainly Michelle's rock; their relationship was described beautifully. The scene where Michelle finally confronted her father was extremely powerful. I found Michelle's courageous journey to recovery quite inspiring. The poem Repair For Despair, when her wall of protection finally came tumbling down was heartbreaking. I loved the photography throughout and the life lessons shared were wonderful. A highly recommended read.

Jamie Michele

Behind the Pretty Doors: A Novel Laced with Poetry by Michelle Hancock is the non-fiction memoir of a survivor who has compiled her stories of rampant, systemic abuse into a worthy ode to where she has been, the strength and courage it took to reconcile injustice within herself, and, finally, where she stands today. Hancock leaves nothing out as she details landmark moments throughout her life, delivering them in a first-person narrative that intersects insight through a combination of traditional storytelling and original poetry. The book is also dotted with photographs of Hancock matched with punches of bite-sized passages that are nothing short of beautiful. “What I've left of my dad, the watch he always wore... A reminder of his wasted seconds...”

Behind the Pretty Doors is the type of memoir that resonates long after the book is put down. Michelle Hancock has her resilience and talent on show in a tandem act that inspires through articulate, intelligent, and creative recitation. One of the parts that stood out to me the most was in the latter half of the book where Hancock speaks of her adult relationship with partner John, using wit and self-deprecating humor where the complacency that relationships inevitably succumb to are given their moment in the spotlight. Everything from mediocre sex to smears of poop left in the toilet as she sets the tone for a course in tolerance, albeit with sarcasm that drips brilliantly from the page, and using lessons of the past where desperate sacrifices for fulfillment are made in one-sided relationships, become the building blocks of becoming a “we” without giving up the “me”. I loved this memoir and Hancock's style and have no doubt other readers will too.

Vincent Dublado

A touching blend of prose and poetry, Behind The Pretty Doors: A Novel Laced with Poetry by Michelle Hancock will inspire you to find courage in your own reality. A product of the childhood secrets that she has held for so long, this book is Hancock’s liberating journey in sharing what she calls the cracks in her foundation. Like an open diary, she reveals the events of her tender years that trod the paths of situations beyond her control. She originally intended to publish an exclusive book about poetry but felt something was missing. But because her poems spring from a great personal tragedy, Hancock has taken each of her poems and provided them with narrative details. What came out is an even bolder, unadulterated connection with her readers.

Fixing the damage to her childhood’s structure has proven to be costly. Yet Hancock, choosing to mend it rather than turning away from it, has managed to emerge scarred but surviving with her head up high. Though she feels that her poetry will do better with an accompanying narrative, her poems can stand as an anthology on their own. They have a musical quality in their rhymes and aids the reader’s memory in elucidating imagery. As forms of contemporary verses, they have a certain spice that evokes Michelle Hancock’s associations with her past and present. Behind the Pretty Doors is a book about healing. It does not glorify an individual’s failure, but rather, it is used as a reminder that triumph is never achieved without those road bumps along the way. Read it, learn from it, and share it. You will be comforted to know that you can move through life according to your own pace, and leave enough sweet memories as you journey through.

Tammy Ruggles

Behind The Pretty Doors: A Novel Laced with Poetry by Michelle Hancock is a lovely book about letting your true self out and embracing who you are inside. This is an emotional journey for the author, with poems to help illustrate points and take their meaning to a higher level. I admire authors that try to do something different with a layout or content, and Hancock's approach fits well with the ideas she conveys. Not only is she expressing her own life, thoughts, and feelings, but she's also encouraging the reader to do the same. As the author goes through the impactful events, people, and experiences that shaped her life, you may find yourself thinking about your own life, and what your own memoir would be like if you were to write one.

Hancock skillfully blends prose with poetry, and throughout the volume, she finds a way to loosen herself from the bonds that held her, and yearns to feel peace amidst the turmoil of living with a parent with a substance use disorder. Her poem "Golf and Earthquakes" has a beautiful lyrical quality to the rhymes, and conveys deep emotion. The author deftly describes the pain that she endured, and the effects it had on her as a child, and then as an adult. Thankfully she is able to write about it, thus helping herself and her audience. This book works on different levels. It's an enjoyable volume, and it's therapeutic for both author and reader. Repressed emotion can lead to a myriad of physical and psychological problems, and it's so helpful when one can verbalize it as well as Hancock does. Like music, poetry can touch feelings deep inside. The author made a good choice combining prose with poetry. Freeing yourself from toxicity isn't easy, but works like Behind The Pretty Doors: A Novel Laced with Poetry by Michelle Hancock could be the catalyst you need to help yourself move on.

Mamta Madhavan

Behind the Pretty Doors: A Novel Laced With Poetry by Michelle Hancock gives glimpses of the author's childhood which she had kept locked inside her for a long time. She speaks of having a strong foundation which is important to the structure of a house and the human soul. The poems come from great tragedy with a story behind each of them. The book is the author's story of learning to love herself and allowing others to love her back, believing in the self, cherishing the beauty and flaws. Most importantly, it gives hope and light to readers who come from dysfunctional backgrounds where circumstances were beyond their control. The memoir is raw and honest, a fine blend of prose and poetry that will encourage readers. It is a book that will help many readers look into themselves, release their negative thoughts, and will give them the confidence to speak about the traumas they have endured. Her poems and words delve into her pain and suffering and make them tangible to readers.

There is a lot of angst, pain, and sorrow in Behind the Pretty Doors but it also gives hope, encouragement, and confidence to readers to come to terms with their emotions endured during childhood and not let it spill into adulthood. The words and expressions in the book are detailed, taking readers into Michelle Hancock's life and showing the demons that resided there without her invitation. My personal favorite in the book is 'Endlessly Circling Circles' and it beautifully sums up the author's feelings as her past becomes her present and she tries to break free from it all. This is a well-executed memoir that will evoke a lot of feelings in readers as they embark with the author/poet on her journey of life.