#1 New Release in Alcoholism and Christian Self-Help ─ Memoir and Portrait of a Family at Its Worst and Best
Some memoirs shock. Some entertain. Some take us places we're afraid to go. A rare few move us. Once in a blue moon, a book does it all. This is Risking the Rapids.
Dysfunctional family. Risking the Rapids opens with the shocking death of O'Garden's older brother, which prompts her and other relatives to seek closure on a journey through the remotest spot in Montana. Described genially as a river "float", a harrowing journey unfolds. This wilderness trip is contrasted with O'Garden's account of growing up with her six siblings in a clashing Catholic family.
Alcoholic father, mean mother, Catholic guilt. WCCO-TV personality Don O'Brien was well-known in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota. Whether forecasting weather and trading wisecracks with the anchor on the nightly news, pitching for sponsors, or hosting a Saturday night movie, he was a man people trusted. In private, Don O'Brien's family life was a far cry from what his fans saw on TV. Little by little we see the corrosion: nightly martinis shared with his wife Betty, an undemonstrative and icy-hearted mother. The neglect. The poisoning of self-esteem. The rigidity demanded by the Catholic church. Competition. Cruelty. All packed into ordinary days and nights as a sensitive girl comes of age.
Anxiety and danger. The children vary in their response to the profound anxiety sown in the offspring of alcoholics. One brother bites his fingers to gangrene. One relentlessly bullies the author, who begins overeating compulsively. One severs all ties with the family. Danger mounts as well on the Montana raft trip, when unusual river conditions swell and speed the waters. Both stories build with escalating intensity to excruciating climaxes.
If you read and liked books such as The Liars' Club, The Wounded Heart, Coming Clean, Change Me into Zeus's Daughter, or Remember Me As Loving You, you will want to read Risking the Rapids.
"O'Garden's story is emotional and remarkable and if you are looking for a story that shows how to cope with grief and grow as a person this is something you should pick up." - Nerdy Girl Express "The award-winning author takes us on her family river rafting trip through the wilds of Montana, in the hopes of healing from her challenging past. Impelled on this journey at age sixty-two by the unexpected death of one of her six siblings, O'Garden weaves the story of her troubled childhood with the chronicle of her harrowing eight-day voyage on her way to finding forgiveness and peaceful waters." - The Rumpus