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Featured Author

Debra Gwartney

Her Latest Book Project:

Live Through This

A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and

Reclaimed Love

A harrowing and deeply personal account of two young girls who are determined to disappear—any parent’s nightmare—and the eventual journey back to fierce mother-daughter love

 

Watch the 

Interview with Debra Gwartney, 

 

  includes commentary by Barry Lopez

 

 

 

 

                        Read Another Interview:

In 2002 Debra Gwartney and two of her daughters stirred listeners with their story on National Public  Radio's This American life.

After an unhappy marriage and divorce, Debra Gwartney moves halfway across the country, from Tucson, Arizona  to Eugene, Oregon, for a new job and what she hopes will be a new life for herself and her four daughters. The two oldest, Amanda, 14, and Stephanie, 13, come to blame their mother for the their broken family as well as their displacement from Tucson, friends, and life as they know it. They hate the rain, the cold, their new school, and they are angry- angrier than anyone knows.

Amanda and Stephanie run to the grunge scene of their own city, then to San Francisco, then --they are so gone their family can not even be sure they are still alive.

Nearly seven years later, the starkly honest memoir Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love tells the larger story. This story of gone-feral runaway daughters recounts unimaginable agony, forgiveness, and reconciliation. 

While many parenting books champion smug how-to advice about how a super parent can solve any problem, Gwartney's tale of ferocious love and ardent efforts is void of any self-righteous advice.  It is an introspective, epic, and honest tale, beautifully told. This Homeresque odyssey to reclaim a family is a study in unconditional love.

Live Through This

Also available on Audio CD

 

This mother, who searches for a way to save her daughters and tries the few options available to her, is unable to restore her family. She loves and mothers the daughters at home and loves the daughters who reject her mothering as well as her very presence. Gwartney's quiet strength and anguish seem to tremor on the page.  Live Through This illustrates the complexity of lacerated relationships, which makes this literary memoir essential reading for those who love rebels, runaways, and imperfect people.    

 

Debra Gwartney is a faculty member at Portland State University where she  teaches nonfiction. AO readers and Gwartney fans will recall that she co-edited the acclaimed and   

previously Featured Anthology, Home Ground : Language for an American Landscape, with Barry Lopez Her short stories, personal narratives, essays, and articles have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, magazines, and newspapers. Debra is a former reporter for The Oregonian, was a nonfiction scholar at the Breadloaf Writers' Conference, and has received fellowships from Literary Arts, Hedgebrook Writer's Colony, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and the American Antiquarian Society.  She lives in Western Oregon with her husband, the writer Barry Lopez, and is the mother of four daughters.

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore Anthologies Debra Gwartney has contributed to: