Hold Me Close, Let Me Go, a memoir – Book Review

Product Details         Hold Me Close, Let Me Go  

A memoir by Adair Lara

 Analysis by Linda Irene

 Summary:  This is a story of teenage rebellion and addiction, and a mother’s attempts to help her despite fighting her own demons and limitations.  The story takes you through five years of rebellion, a mother’s denial, her allowance of her sixteen- year-old daughter having a live-in lover, her insistence of abortion when she got pregnant, and birth control implants, so that nothing would interfere with her daughter’s education.  It’s also a story about the dynamics between mother and daughter, a mother’s bad choices and unsuccessful attempts to reach her daughter, including sending her to live with relatives at sixteen and the daughter’s feeling of being unloved resulting in her acting out.  Ultimately, things settle down, Morgan completes high school and graduates with a degree in philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Reviews:  “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.

“Her story of her struggle, the mistakes, the triumphs, the abiding love and pure anguish to save her brilliant and self-destructive daughter is a must read for anyone who loves a child, or ever hopes to love a child. Not every child will follow Morgan’s stormy passage to redemption, but many will, and for any parent, Lara’s book will be a beacon.”

–Jacqueline Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“An honest, moving account of family life gone haywire.”       –Kirkus Reviews

About the Author:

 Lara is an award-winning newspaper columnist and author of a dozen books. She has had articles and essays published in Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest and others.  She lives in San Francisco.

She has won a wide range of awards including:

*1990: Associated Press, Best Columnist in California.
*1997: Humor Columns for Newspapers over 100,000, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
*1998: First place, general interest columns, National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
*1999: Second place, commentary, American Association of Sunday and Feature editors contest, competing against papers with circulation over 300,000.
*May 17, 2002 was declared Adair Lara Day in San Francisco by proclamation of Mayor Willie Brown

Therapeutic Potential

Adair’s Turning Point:  Al-Anon meetings and Dean, an Al-Anon leader, helped Adair become a better mother, make better decisions and become the pillar Morgan so needed.  “Dean had explained to me that when parents change the teens change in response to the parents changing.”

The therapeutic potential is that applying the principles of tough love, when everything inside you wants to give in to the addict’s manipulations and threats, only then is there hope to making necessary, life-saving, positive and lasting changes.


“We want you to stay in the program, honey. If you miss another meeting, then you have to find another place to live.”  (217)

 “I don’t think it could have felt worse if those in the program had handed me a belt and asked me to beat her with it.” (217)

“Everything had changed: instead of walking on eggs, trying to keep her from exercising the unspoken threat-running away-I had seized power. Living at home had become not a sentence, but a privilege.” (217)

Rhetorical Analysis

 Adair writes from personal experience as a mother —what worked and what did not work to help her daughter.  She speaks frankly about her own demons and limitations.   Her credibility came from her honesty about herself, her family, and their connection to and what they learned from AA and Al-Anon.

This book could have a wide range of audience from parents of addicts, to family members and the curious.

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