An emotionally fraught tale of a mother’s love and her actions to save her daughter from opioid addiction.

Another heartbreaking tale of opioid abuse and the toll it takes on an entire family.

Missing money, bent and burned or missing spoons, and missing jewelry: All of these served as clues that eventually led Cavanagh to the realization that her daughter, Katie, was a heroin addict who had stolen from her in order to buy drugs. The author’s grief and suffering are consistently palpable as she traces the numerous paths she took with her ex-husband, Mike, over the course of several years, to get Katie into treatment centers. She shares the anguish and dismay she felt each time her daughter slipped away again, returning to her life of drug abuse and abusive boyfriends. “I’ve seen so much pain in the last few years,” she writes. “I hadn’t known just how much pain the world could contain. It crushes me sometimes, not just my own but the pain of so many others also trying to hang on to whatever shred of their loved ones they can. I don’t know how I got here. There is never a day that goes by that this does not feel very surreal.” Cavanagh describes her powerful feelings of both fear and shame and how her need for support led her to reach out to others experiencing the same trauma. Because of her deep involvement in this crisis and her discovery that help was limited, the author founded a nonprofit group, Magnolia New Beginnings, to aid parents and drug users in finding treatment and the necessary emotional support for those struggling with all kinds of substance abuse. While Cavanagh’s story is unique, it’s also, sadly, fairly common. When she discovered the shockingly widespread nature of the problem, the author devoted herself to addressing the crisis—and its attendant stigmas—head-on.

An emotionally fraught tale of a mother’s love and her actions to save her daughter from opioid addiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-29734-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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