What does a mother do when her teenaged daughter is spinning out of control and nothing is bringing her back? Here is a searingly honest memoir of motherhood and a testament to the power of love and family.
When Adair Lara’s daughter Morgan turned thirteen, she was transformed, seemingly overnight, from a sweet, loving child into an angry, secretive teenager who would neither listen nor be disciplined. The author, her youngest son, Patrick, her ex-husband, Jim, and her new husband, Bill, all stepped on a five-year roller-coaster ride in which Morgan incarnated the chaos principle in torn jeans and dyed hair. Drinking, drugging, disappearing, suspicious companions, failing and cheating at school, joy riding in a stolen car–there was no variety of adolescent acting out that she didn’t indulge in. For Adair Lara it became an endless sojourn at the end of her rope, a trial immensely complicated by the reappearance in her life of her aging father, a man who had abandoned his wife and seven children decades earlier. Inevitably, Morgan’s misbehavior revives memories of her own headstrong adolescence, while her father’s presence makes agonizingly real for her the consequences of giving up. Paradoxically, he also becomes the source of her best advice.
Hold Me Close, Let Me Go is an emotionally charged, often brutally honest memoir that all parents (and anyone who was ever a teenager) will experience shocks of recognition from while reading. It imparts invaluable lessons about holding loved ones close through the roughest passages and about the power of family to overcome the most grievous obstacles. Adair Lara is a clear-eyed and eloquent witness to the complex costs and rewards of motherhood, and her book will redefine for readers their idea of what being “a good enough mother” really means.
Exploring different approaches to parenting a difficult teen that rely less on tough love than a willingness to embrace nontraditional ideas, Lara (Slowing Down in a Speeded Up World) tells the bittersweet story of surviving her "wild" daughter Morgan's teen years in a memoir reminiscent of Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. Fans of Lara's column in the San Francisco Chronicle will recognize mother and daughter, as well as son Patrick, third husband Bill, and Jim, the kids' father, who all share a house. Cameos by Lara's mother, who utters the magical words that get Morgan back on track, and her father, who reenters Lara's life after walking out on the family years earlier, complete the picture. For help with specific problems, parents may benefit more from practical guides. But readers who want the voice of experience to tell them that their kids will be OK will find comfort in Lara's tale of her daughter's encounters with drugs, alcohol, sex and Manic Panic hair dye. Some may disagree with the author's decision to kick Morgan out of the house and allow the girl's boyfriend to sleep in her room, but everyone will applaud Lara's desire to make her daughter feel loved and to ensure that she finishes high school. Readers will also enjoy Lara's good-humored insight: "Morgan needed a wise TV mommy, one who could laugh at her foibles... and dish out wisdom. What she had instead was me."