Troubled teens in the tony Marin area
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE and#8212; This summer I gravitated toward books of a rather serious nature. No beachy reads for me, I guess. Perhaps itand#8217;s because we had such a woefully late start to summer? Whatever the reason, two that stood out in particular involved troubled teens in Marin, one a novel, the other a memoir.
and#8220;Imperfect Birdsand#8221; is the first work of fiction Iand#8217;ve read by Anne Lamott. I am a huge fan of her non-fiction, so I was looking forward to reading one of her novels. She did not disappoint. As the quote displays, she captures the schizophrenic nature of parenting a teenage girl. It can be the best of times and the worst of times within the same week, day or even hour. and#8220;Imperfect Birdsand#8221; pretty much chronicles the worst of times. Rosie Ferguson is 17 and ready to enjoy the summer before her senior year of high school. Sheand#8217;s intelligent: She aced AP physics; athletic, a former state-ranked tennis doubles champion; and beautiful. She is, in short, everything her mother hoped she could be. But as her senior year draws to a close, there are disturbing signs the life Rosie claims to be leading is a sham and that Elizabethand#8217;s hopes for her daughter to remain immune from the pull of the darker impulses of drugs and alcohol are dashed. Slowly and against their will, her parents are forced to confront the fact that Rosie has been lying to them and that her deceptions will have profound consequences. Booklist praises Lamottand#8217;s ability to and#8220;intuitively tap into the teenage drug culture to create a vivid, unsettling portrait of a family in crisis, producing her most stylistically mature and thematically circumspect novel to date.and#8221; I found it terrifying, frustrating and heartbreaking, yet at the same time, full of insight and ultimately hopeful.
While living in the Bay Area for 15 years, I thoroughly enjoyed Joan Ryanand#8217;s sports writing and later her work as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. In and#8220;The Water Giver: A Story of a Mother, a Son, and Their Second Chance,and#8221; she describes the emotional challenges she and her son Ryan faced with his diagnosis of sensory integration dysfunction as a young child and then tells the harrowing story of his near-fatal skateboarding accident as a teenager and its aftermath. Ryan suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to walk or talk, requiring multiple complex surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Through the experience, the author comes to terms with her expectations as a parent, as she wisely recasts the question, how does one raise children to be the best they can be, instead of the best of who you want them to be? It was a difficult book to read at times, but well worth sharing in the journey toward healing, both physical and emotional. On a trivial side note, it was heartening to see both Tahoe and Truckee mentioned as favorite hiking destinations for Ryan and her son. May we see them back on the trails soon!
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