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Then There Was No Mountain: A Parallel Odyssey of a Mother and Daughter Through Addiction Paperback – September 6, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Writer Waterston bravely revisits a painful period of her life in her first book. With a "passion for the marriage and life [she] wanted to believe [she] had," Waterston "clung to a distorted view," which kept her from recognizing the damaging effects her husband's drug addiction had on the couple's three children. Once Waterston, at 39, realized she had stayed in the marriage "beyond reason," she gathered the children (ages 10, eight and five), packed the family station wagon and evacuated their Oregon ranch. What followed was a series of dying dreams and "pie crust promises, easily made and easily broken." The author writes candidly about her desire to keep her children engaged in enough activities so they wouldn't risk being lured into the "dark" life their father lived. But she couldn't stop them from succumbing to peer pressure. After facing the drug addictions of her middle and youngest children (the book's subtitle is misleading, as both Sophie and Nick have drug problems), she concocted a formula that she hoped would hold life's negative influences at bay: "four times the good is needed to counter one instance of evil in the world." Waterston sheds light on the lucrative business side of rehabilitation, the fear of her children's relapses and the availability of drugs, especially for rural children. She also looks unflinchingly at her own failures as a parent and throws pointed admonitions at parents who are afraid to set firm rules for their children. "Parenting is not a popularity contest," she cautions. The lessons Waterston shares were learned by trial and error, and her book should help others who are blindly navigating their way back to health and normalcy.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Her book should help others who are blindly navigating their way back to health and normalcy. (Publishers Weekly)

[A] More must read. (More)

Full of honesty, heartbreak, and revelation. (San Jose Mercury News)

Only if you have a feel for the written word that is stronger than the heartache you must describe can you deliver a narrative as powerful as Ellen Waterston's. (Oregonian)

Waterston's book is a brave undertaking and a gift to us all. (True Story)

One of the top 10 Northwest books (Oregonian)

An unflinching, honest account of a mother's long struggle to save her troubled daughter. Set against vivid backgrounds of Western and New England landscapes, it is an engrossing story, all the more because many readers will feel a pang of recognition at the hard issues facing contemporary parents, whether they come from tiny, wind-swept ranch towns or affluent east coast cities. . . . A beautiful and compelling book. (Craig Lesley, author of The Sky Fishermen and Storm Riders)

The author is my sister. This is the main reason I know about this book, but not the main reason I strongly urge you to get it and read it. It is strong medicine. It is written from the heart, with eyes wide open. (Sam Waterston, star of NBC's Law & Order)

If your mission is to lay bare "the parallel odyssey of a mother and daughter through addiction," unfailing, unblinking honesty is your starting line. But only if you have a feel for the written word that is stronger than the heartache you must describe can you deliver a narrative as powerful as [Waterston's]. . . . But the illuminating force of this book is Waterston's pacing, her subtle detail of life on Oregon's High Desert, her metaphors, and her choreography with the language. Perhaps the compelling frankness of Then There Was No Mountain is possible because after years of sever and troubled darkness, pages of honest emotion seem like steps of light. (Steve Duin, The Oregonian)

An eloquent, smart, and painful book about the problems every parent faces raising children in America. (Kent Nelson, author, Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still)

Then There Was No Mountain is a "must read"! (More Magazine, October Issue)

Then There Was No Mountain was chosen as one of the northwest's top ten books of 2003 by The Oregonian, December 28, 2003!

Then There Was No Mountain is a book about how one person's substance abuse can turn the lives of loved ones upside down and inside out, requiring drastic self-exploration and extreme intervention for the other family members to recover. (Lon Woodbury Woodbury Reports, Inc)

Waterston bravely revisits a painful period of her life . . . her book should help others who are blindly navigating, their way back to health and normalcy. (Publishers Weekly)

Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer interviewed Ellen Waterston in January 2004 citing Then There Was No Mountain as a must-read.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589792475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589792470
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,276,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David Hall on December 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ellen Waterston gifts us with a gripping, deeply personal, and ultimately very hopeful story that reads like a good novel. You need not have endured the heartache of serious drug addiction and denial to appreciate this compelling story, although I work professionally with many addicted teens and their families and found the story true as well. It begins with Ellen's youngest daughter Sophie's submersion into drugs, dysphoria and dysfunction. As Sophie sinks deeper and deeper into her alienated world, Ellen (now a single mother after divorcing Sophie's drug abusing father) becomes more desperate and finally sends Sophie off to a residential drug rehabilitation program in rural Montana. There both of them find a guiding light in the woman founder and force behind the Northern Lights adolescent girls rehabilitation program. From here the story is about Ellen and how she struggles to see and then heal her own addictions to control, guilt, and victimization. When Sophie comes home after nearly a year in treatment and gets drunk with her older brother, Ellen implodes. "I am sick of doing it all, I wailed to myself: bread winner, boundary setter, unconditionally loving parent. I have been robbed by drugs, I whined, of my husband and my relationship with my children." Friends urge her beyond feelings of betrayal to a place where she can see that Sophie is now responsible for her own life. Beginning to genuinely let go, she rediscovers the real life we are all meant to lead-"in trust, in faith, in love, even when you can't see." Like real life, the story has a hopeful, but not final ending. The struggle that Ellen captures so eloquently is life-size and on-going. I savored this odyssey well after finishing the book. Hopefully, when Sophie grows into her own muse, she will treat us to her own story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Moog on November 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I just loved this book. The honesty was inspiring and it gave help and hope as a parent and a wife.
It is a story of tremendous courage and I could not put it down. thank you Ellen Waterston for sharing your family's journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By karenk on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book was an extremely unlikely best read for me. I was enlightened and inspired an many levels in beautifully unexpected way. I am most grateful for the author's candor and especially thankful to her for sharing.
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Then There Was No Mountain: A Parallel Odyssey of a Mother and Daughter Through Addiction + Between Desert Seasons + Where the Crooked River Rises: A High Desert Home
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