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Book Reviews

 

A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
by Maggie C. Romero
Mercury HeartLink

 

 

‘Only now do I recognize how bitterly angry and disappointed I’ve been with her throughout her addiction, partly because it’s been such a difficult challenge for me as a parent, but more so because she has become the incarnation of the worst in me: lonely, isolated, compulsive and driven by addiction. Seeing this pattern carried down through the generations has burdened me terribly.’

“Romero’s unflinchingly honest memoir recounts her life growing up with an alcoholic father, her mother’s emotional abuse, her distant sister, and her own struggles with an eating disorder that’s “like a panther ready to pounce at vulnerable times.” She faces a lifelong battle with her addiction and as a mother she reluctantly witnesses her daughter, Angie, succumb to a similar life of addiction and pain.

With her husband Xavier Romero–a man with “a big heart”–Romero bears three children: Carlos, Angie, and Caroline. Their life together should be very happy living abroad in Europe, but the marriage is strained by Xavier’s long working hours and her raising the children. The separation from her husband and her attempts to be good mother coupled with the desire for individuality and a career outside the home awakens the love-hate battle with her self-esteem. “Addiction is a powerful disease and, like a cancer, it wants to survive.”

Later, with her new partner Gene, Romero finds herself in a new war with Angie, who spirals out of control with drug addiction. While she does all she can to help Angie, Romero eventually recognizes the need to sever the cord and release herself from the obsession and crippling pain of her daughter.

Romero alternates with time in her memoir, reflecting on the past and present, attempting to understand key moments and decisions that ultimately affected her family and where she is today. Her complex relationship with Angie is detailed with an emotional and truthful perspective of a mother who, despite everything, still loves her daughter. Through A Mother’s Story Romero comes to terms with her own failures and successes while exorcising the demons that plague her.”

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

“Maggie addresses addiction in three-dimensional terms, bringing her own addictions and prejudices onto the page for close inspection. She informs readers of the nature of the beast through the courageous act of writing her own path and spiritual development as it unfolds. Readers are bound to self-reflect on their own reactions and judgments and come out better equipped for coping. She shows us that in this illness, there is no sideline to stand on for observation. We are all within the circle, and we are each responsible for our own happiness.” Merimée Moffitt, Making Little Edens © 2013

 

“A retired English teacher’s debut memoir of addiction and codependence.

Romero writes that she was the daughter of an alcoholic and was raised in a dysfunctional household. She struggled with food addiction as a child and young adult, a problem that she says her perfectionist mother treated with amphetamines, resulting in a prescription-drug addiction. The author eventually achieved control over these difficulties as an adult, except in times of extreme stress; later, though, she realized that her own daughter had started using drugs. Following a divorce and years of hectic single parenthood, she attributed her daughter’s nonconformity to her artistic nature and readjustment problems related to her parents’ divorce. But after years of supporting her daughter through rehab, relapse, unwanted pregnancies, and abuse-related health problems, Romero recognized that she was enabling her daughter while neglecting her other two children. She further understood that her own feelings of guilt contributed to her codependence, and so she sought to distance herself. The “Recovery” in the subtitle refers to Romero’s own, and she proves a point by showing that her own recovery is as complete as it will ever be—essentially because she forced her daughter to be accountable for herself. After engaging with her daughter’s story, readers will naturally be curious about whether she stayed sober, as well. Romero’s generally well-written, sympathetic story will be relatable to those who have dealt with addiction, and those with less personal experience may gain a greater understanding of it. Romero’s and her daughter’s stories are truly heart-wrenching, as the former watches her talented, creative offspring descend into a world of prostitution and addiction. The narrative is occasionally repetitive, as in the continual references to Romero’s father’s alcoholism. The author also sometimes mentions past events but doesn’t explain them in detail (“Her face was still healing from the burns she had gotten freebasing crack cocaine back in October”). Where she really excels is in detailing her own feelings of culpability: “My guilt gave her illness power over me. It kept me enabling her, pandering to her needs, protecting her from the consequences of her choices.”

An often poignant recollection that details the demon of addictive behavior.” Kirkus Reviews

 

“Maggie C. Romero has written an amazingly heartfelt and detailed account of the struggles she and her family face when dealing with an addicted child while also coming to terms with her own demons and ultimately learning to care for herself. Addiction is a family disease and this book really stresses that point while focusing on the special relationship between a mother and her child.”  David Parnell, Facing the Dragon

 

“Maggie’s bittersweet story addresses her loving journey and ultimately her leaving everything in the hands of a higher power. Her love, not only for her child but also for all those in the grips of addiction, shines radiantly through. Despite having treated numerous individuals with assorted addictions over many years, her story brought tears to my eyes.”  Rob Lee, M.D.

 

“A beautifully written memoir about loving and letting go of a beloved daughter–Addiction is sly and relentless beast-a disease-that takes over a person’s mind, body and spirit and robs them of their life. It also has a devastating effect upon the people who love them as they watch their loved one slowly slip away. When the person who is addicted is a beloved child, the depth of the pain, heartache and confusion is incomprehensible. We become addicted to our loved ones’ addiction. It is a family disease. I know because addiction has paid a visit to my own family.

Maggie Romero captures the essence of being the mother of a drug-addicted daughter, Angie so eloquently and honestly that I felt I was re-living my own story. As Maggie describes, you are dealing with the child you love and the addiction at the same time. You never stop loving them but loving them takes on a new shape as you try to navigate around the deception, lies and manipulative, self-destructive behaviors that their addiction creates.

The unique aspect of this memoir is that Maggie explores her own addiction and the impact of having an alcoholic father. Through her vivid descriptions and honest introspection, we as readers develop an understanding of not only intergenerational links to the addiction but also to the deep ache in a mother’s heart for her lost daughter. We see Angie’s goodness and beauty and therefore grieve for the losses. We see Maggie’s daily struggles to find a place of peace in the midst of all the chaos.

Her writing flows seamlessly through various timeframes and paints a clear portrait not only of addiction but also of one mother’s valiant struggle to find her own path to recovery. With piercing honest and candid self-assessment, Maggie shows the fine line between loving and letting go.

Once I started reading this beautifully–written story, I had a hard time putting it down. There are no storybook endings but the story left me feeling uplifted and hopeful. I highly recommend this riveting memoir to parents who struggle with addicted children as well as to anyone who wants to learn more about the dynamics of addiction. Besides being a satisfying read, it can also serve as an excellent resource for those who serve the addicted.” Kathleen Pooler, Ever Faithful to His Lead, 2014

 

“Love and despair one lives through when loving an addict–This book touched my heart in so many ways! It follows the journey of a loving mother and her addict daughter. as the mother of an addict myself, I felt her struggle every step of the way, the ups, the downs, the joys and the sorrows. loving an addict (especially when it is your child) is a roller coaster ride and this author has ridden the roller coaster and survived. it gives me hope. the book is filled with the hope, love and despair one lives through when loving an addict and trying your best to help them. what Maggie Romero finally comes to understand is that she can’t help Angie, she can only help herself. Reading this book and sharing the pain led me to finally understand that I can’t help my addict either, I can just let go and let God. And finally, I am at peace. thank you, Maggie, for sharing your story and struggle with us.”  Judy Davenport

 

“An important read–This is a book of uncovering, discovering and discarding. Maggie Romero not only speaks of her anguish over what she feels to be the loss of her daughter to drugs, but also an honest account of her own history and errors made as a result of her own addictions. She takes us through the history in a style of writing that allows the reader to relate rather than being a voyeur. I related not through the particular events but through her choice of words that so accurately described my feelings. But this isn’t a poor me autobiography. It is a journey from ignorance to knowledge to recovery for the author. This is a book for any one who has been affected by additions. It is written with heart.” Amazon Customer

 

“A fabulous read for moms of addicts–Wow, where do I begin? This book touched me in so many ways. A true account of what us Moms go thru. I laughed with the author, I cried…my heart never stopped feeling! Anyone trying to heal from a loved ones addiction needs to read the book ATLEAST once!
A friend at work is reading it now!
WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK??”  Cathy