- Alisha Barnes
What would you do if your daughters ran away? Live Through This, by Debra Gwartney, is the true story of a mother who lost two of her daughters to the grunge subculture of the 1990s. They began hating everything about her--not just two teenagers fighting with their mother but a feud. Meanwhile, they totally submerged themselves into depression. Shortly after the girls became obsessed with the movement, Gwartney lost them fully to the streets. This story is a unique account by a mother of her lost relationship with her daughters.
During the time before 15-year-old Amanda and 13-year-old Stephanie ran away, Debra had sought to keep her family together, just the four girls and herself, after a long-time-coming divorce. She moved from Arizona to Oregon to flee her husband who just couldn't understand her. At the time she hadn't considered how the divorce and move would affect her still young daughters. This is an all-too-real story for many women trying to raise children alone. Gwartney attempts to recount how her daughters reached the point where they felt the only option they had was to leave their cozy home to hit the streets. The girls were living in abandoned buildings and shooting up whatever drug the other streetpeople were passing around, leaving Gwartney to fear for the worst: their deaths.
You can feel Gwartney’s pain as she pours out her heart on the pages, from her explanation of her divorce from the children’s father, to her tireless searches through the streets of San Francisco looking for her daughter, all the while trying to convince law enforcement to hear her plea for help. The book follows Gwartney through the many treatment programs that Amanda and Stephanie went through--most of them not able to help the girls’ tough condition and symbiotic relationship with one another. At the same time Gwartney was still trying her best to raise her other two daughters in a stable home.