LIVE THROUGH THIS

A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters

Debra Gwartney

With four young daughters and a miserably failed marriage, Debra Gwartney moves halfway across the country to Eugene, Oregon, for a new job and what she hopes will be a new life for herself and her daughters. The two oldest, Amanda, 15, and Stephanie, 13, have a symbiotic relationship so intense they barely know where one begins and the other leaves off. They come to blame their mother for their family’s dislocation and one day the two run off together—to the streets of their own city, then San Francisco, then utterly gone.

Faced with the unraveling of the family she thought she could hold together through blind love,

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With four young daughters and a miserably failed marriage, Debra Gwartney moves halfway across the country to Eugene, Oregon, for a new job and what she hopes will be a new life for herself and her daughters. The two oldest, Amanda, 15, and Stephanie, 13, have a symbiotic relationship so intense they barely know where one begins and the other leaves off. They come to blame their mother for their family’s dislocation and one day the two run off together—to the streets of their own city, then San Francisco, then utterly gone.

Faced with the unraveling of the family she thought she could hold together through blind love, Gwartney begins the painful—and universal—journey of recognizing her own flawed motivations as a mother. Live Through This chronicles Gwartney’s frantic efforts to recover the beautiful, intelligent daughters she cherishes. The triumph of her story is its sensitive rendering of how all three women have dug deep for forgiveness and a return to profound love.
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  • Mariner Books
  • Paperback
  • Feburary 2010
  • 240 Pages
  • 9780547248011

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About Debra Gwartney

Debra Gwartney is a former Oregonian newspaper reporter, and worked as a correspondent for Newsweek magazine for ten years. She is on the nonfiction writing faculty at Portland State University. Her 2002 appearance with daughters Stephanie and Amanda on This American Life garnered intense listener response. The mother of four daughters and married to the writer Barry Lopez, Gwartney lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Praise

“Gwartney deserves high praise for her clear and lacerating prose, her refusal to assign blame or make excuses, and the stunning candor with which she offers telling glimpses into her own, and her daughters’ father’s, youthful recklessness and parental flounderings. Everyone concerned about self-destructive teens, and every survivor of her or his own wild times, will find Gwartney’s searing chronicle of her resilient family’s runaway years deeply affecting.”—Booklist

“Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This is an extraordinary, heart-driven account of daughters lost and found, of other daughters kept close along the way, and of an underworld that’s with us everywhere, but which so few of us see.”—Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company

“For all the raw power of this true story and the fearless honesty of the voice telling it, what sticks out for me is the literary craft that shapes every sentence. Debra Gwartney has seen clear to the bottom of her experience, purged it of self-righteousness, and emerged with a stunningly humane and humbled awareness of life’s troubles”—Phillip Lopate, author of Totally, Tenderly, Tragically and Portrait of My Body

“Gutsy, edgy, and revelatory, Gwartney’s fast-paced tale of a family in pieces builds to a magnificent, hard-won communion. Her ability to follow the wildness in her own story uncovers truths about every parent, every child.”—China Galland, author of Love Cemetery: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves and Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna

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