Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love

Debra Gwartney, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-547-05447-6

After Gwartney and her husband—“two people who didn't belong in a marriage together but who couldn't manage to find a decent way to split up”—divorce, her two older daughters, barely in their teens, run away. In this bitingly honest memoir, Gwartney, a former correspondent for Newsweek , tells of her daughters' paths of self-destruction as street children, with intervening stints in various treatment centers (among them, a state group home, the foster child program, a “wilderness-therapy program”). As daughters Amanda and Stephanie move back and forth between their parents' homes of squabbles and angry rebellion and the street world of self-maiming—socially (dropping out of school), physically (drugs, scabies), emotionally (attempted suicide)—Gwartney builds a life around trying to bring them home again, into which her younger daughters, Mollie and Mary, are inexorably drawn. After a grim and frustrating two years, she is successful. Gwartney's memoir, however, is not just about the runaways; rather it's a reflection of her emotional state as months go by not knowing where one or the other daughter is. Her story was originally told in an episode of public radio's This American Life . While she occasionally overwrites, she offers readers comfort and some hope. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 10/13/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-6068-6
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Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-547-24801-1
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