ADAIR LARA is an award-winning newspaper columnist whose column appears twice weekly in the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the author of five books, including Welcome to Earth, Mom; Slowing Down in a Speeded-Up World;and her latest, The Best of Adair Lara. Her articles and essays have appeared in Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Reader's Digest and other national publications. She lives in San Francisco; her daughter Morgan has just graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
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." Agent, Fred Hill. (Feb. 23) Forecast: Lara's biweekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle has earned her a solid readership that will seek out her take on this timely topic. An author tour and ads in women's and parents' magazines and Web sites will help insure the book's visibility. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Normal was gone," writes divorced boomer Dudman in her powerful account of her daughter Augusta's stormy adolescence. Drugs, smoking, truancy, lies, sex, stealing Augusta, 15, did it all in a household that was soft on rules and heavy on permissiveness and love. Finally, Dudman sent Augusta from their Maine home out to an Idaho school where rebellious teens can begin to get their lives in order. Yet even there, nothing works. Dudman is an exceptionally skilled writer, drawing readers into her emotional turmoil and transforming an ugly story into a bold, redemptive tale. When Augusta continues to run away, to defy even the strictest authorities in other programs, in other states, Dudman comes to realize she can't really "fix" anything in her child's life, though her daughter comes home at the end. "You don't get to give up on your kids," she writes. "We were all just thrashing through the woods in darkness." Like Dudman, Lara is a mother with a not-so-innocent past, and in raising her daughter Morgan, 13, there were also no rules, no discipline, no restraints. A San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Lara offers a less poignant story, peppered with more day-by-day "we did this/we did that" vignettes. Morgan's dad, Jim (Lara's ex), lives upstairs, and, like many children of divorced parents, Morgan is skilled at playing one parent against the other. Complicating the mix is Lara's father, who abandoned the family years ago and reappears to demand the family's attention. Finally, Lara says "no" to Morgan and demands that she attend school, quit using drugs, go to counseling, and consider an abortion if she wants to come home. These are stories of battles and love. Lara's is good; Dudman's is unforgettable. [Dudman was previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/00, and Lara in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/00.] Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"An honest, moving account of family life gone haywire." -Kirkus
"Adair Lara has transcended the genre of self to achieve selflessness. Her story of abiding love and pure anguish is a must-readEand for any parent, Lara's book will be a beacon." -Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean "Lara's memoir is in equal parts disturbing and absorbing, primarily because of [her] ability to acknowledge--and ultimately accept responsibility for--her initial eagerness to deny that her daughter's life was going awry...Her yarn is told from the heart" -New York Newsday