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comeback - a mother and daughter's journey through hell and back Paperback – April 4, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 195 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A nightmarish saga of a teenage runaway in L.A. ends triumphantly thanks to love and support from her screenwriter mom and stepdad. At 15, Mia gets involved in a dangerous drug and Wicca scene, stunning her successful, controlling mother, Claire, and stepfather, Paul. But the signs were in place earlier, after Mia's history of being sexually abused by her biological father, a violent, vindictive drug user whom Claire left with difficulty. Sent to Indiana to live with Claire's sister, Mia starts using cocaine heavily and even gets arrested. When the destructive behavior (including self-mutilation) accelerates, Claire and Paul send Mia to the unlikely Morava Academy, in the Czech Republic, a kind of Spartan military institution where 50 teens are rigorously monitored and reprogrammed. Meanwhile, back in L.A., the parents undergo an intensive group therapy called Discovery to learn to shed guilt for their daughter's behavior, and also forgive her. Oddly, Morava is soon shut down after allegations of staff abuse, but Mia goes through a brilliant turnaround at Spring Creek Lodge in Montana. Mia's desperate diary entries appear between Claire's lively, angry, sarcastic narrative, allowing mother and daughter to maintain a heart-wrenching, honest dialogue. (Mar.)
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“Come Back is a testament to the power of the love between a mother and a daughter.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Best mother-daughter memoir.” (Glamour)

“We strongly recommend this powerful mother-daughter memoir...Intense, shocking, and ultimately triumphant...” (Barnes & Noble)

“A nightmarish saga of a teenage runaway in L.A. ends triumphantly. . . . Heart-wrenching, honest dialogue.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A powerful and moving story of two brave women who struggled through darkness into the light.” (Susan Forward, Ph.D., author of Toxic Parents)

“A rare, visceral reading experience....Offering lessons in living, loving, and accepting responsibility that could benefit every reader.” (Edwin John Wintle, author of Breakfast with Tiffany: An Uncle’s Memoir)

“One of those rare books I could hardly put down until I finished. . . . Brilliant—and often funny, too!” (Leah Komaiko, author of Am I Old Yet?)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060792167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060792169
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,390,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Claire Fontaine is an author and screenwriter, and certified life and relationship coach. She is currently living in Paris and at work on a novel.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The cover shows a little girl, aloft. Her mother's open hands are at the bottom of the photograph. It's a lovely, joyous picture. And one that every parent can relate to. Because the picture is a complete metaphor for our idealized relationship with our kids --- we launch our children heavenward, and revel in what we see: beautiful purity backed by a pure blue sky. What comes next is certain --- we'll catch them. Without fail. Because that's our first, our most important mission in life: to serve our children and protect them until they're able to take flight on their own.

But in Chicago, in the early '80s, Claire Fontaine --- for legal reasons, a pseudonym --- makes a seemingly innocent mistake, the kind made by any number of young women in love: She marries the wrong guy. Nick is a Golden Child of Mayflower stock. Well, not so golden. He smokes as much dope as he grows. And his family has views about sex that are --- well, "progressive" might not be the right word for it. "Sick" and "incestuous" come closer.

Claire and Nick have a daughter, Mia. Nick, who has long enjoyed nude gardening, now likes to wander about the house in the buff, pressing his two-year-old daughter against him. Clair objects. Nick has a stunning comeback: "Sex isn't something children should be protected from, Claire. It's like protecting them from good food or music." And, soon, he moves on to abuse his child. And, of course, to beat his wife and wreck their home.

Claire is confused, numb, slow to bolt. Taking Mia to the doctor is a defeat --- the pediatrician, impressed by Nick's name, defends him. Judges prefer more tests to making definitive rulings. No professional cares to hear from Mia, who remembers everything and is now terrified of her father.
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By Diane T on September 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I believe the main purpose of this book is to show an example of how one's parent(s) must go to every extreme to save their child from drugs; even if that includes taking them against their will.
The program that she belonged to didn't seem too harsh at all. What some people forget to realize is they are dealing with DRUG ADDICTS. Besides using, we've perfected the art of manipulation when it comes to getting what we want & bending any rule to get it.

The bittersweet part of this book is that unfortunately, only the affluent can afford this type of program. This leaves most middle and all low income out in the dust. So, while it is a beautiful story about the bond between a mom & her daughter, it cannot be ignored that this type of care is not available to all. That is a shame as every life holds the same value.

I do highly recommend this book. It's easy reading & goes into the thoughts of Mia Fontaine and her mom, Claire. Both are going thru emotional rollercoasters. This book is also suitable for adolescents.
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Format: Paperback
Every once in a while, I read a book so moving, that I find myself in awe. For me, this was one of those books. Five years ago, I graduated from Spring Creek Lodge after spending nearly two years in the program. To this day, memories of my experience play a huge role in my life. The sad thing is that no one ever talks about it. And even of those who are willing, only the people who have experienced it can truly understand. To read something that is so straightforward and honest... something that truly captures the essence of the experience was truly refreshing. So many people have so many negative things to say about their experience (understandably), but so few people are willing to listen to the stories of the people who the program helped. I, for one, am thankful for this book. Almost everyday in my life people ask me about my experience in the program, but I find myself hard pressed to come up with an adequate description. I have always joked that it would take a book for someone to truly get a glimpse of my experience, but I never thought that book would exist. Well... here it is. Enjoy!
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Come Back is a great read! The story is gripping, and filled with rich moments--I laughed and cried. But the power of the story goes much deeper than that. As a teacher, I work with troubled teens, and have seen their parents go through hell the way Claire Fontaine did. This is an important book, because the events leading to drug-addicted Mia's capture and her ultimate healing are true, and they offer fresh insight into what it takes to help this generation. The "cowboy therapist" who held a mirror to Mia while she was in the tough love program showed me the balance of limit-setting and authentic caring that is effective in helping kids like Mia. I loved that we hear both voices-- mother and daughter. Each is an exceptional writer--I was amazed. Sometimes their perspectives are in sharp discord. But as the story unfolds, and Mia begins to reclaim her innocence and her joy, they find a genuine harmony.
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We purchased this book based on recommendations from a parent forum associated with residential schools. Our daughter is currently in one of these schools so we read it with intense focus. Not only did this book give us a perspective that was interesting and informative to us, it is also very well written. I picked it up on Friday morning and finished it on Saturday evening using every waking minute that I was not busy with work or chores.

This book depicts the school environment quite accurately. We are very grateful that these residential schools exist, and grateful for this wonderful book.
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