All posts by mlibbey

Handing in My Completed Thesis

I never thought I would make it here. Tomorrow is the day that I am going to hand in my completed thesis. To me it isn’t finished. It is 80 pages of hard work that I am proud of. But the novel isn’t finished. I have completed as much as I could within the past two semesters that I have been working on my thesis as a whole. At first the brainstorming process took me longer than I thought. Once I manifested my idea to write a novel the research stage had to begin. Once the research stage was over I had to then start writing. I wrote my first chapter over winter break and I have been painstakingly writing ever since.

I am happy to say that I am handing in what I have so far and I am happy about how far I have come. I do believe that there is much more work to do. This summer will be dedicated to finishing my novel and I will do my best to send it out to get it published. I am really hoping to be able to find a publishing house who would like to publish my novel. I believe it has a strong message and I think the story is compelling enough that people will want to read it. I am just coming to the climax of the story. I have been setting the plot up for the “problem that needs to be solved.” I have become fond of my characters and I want to see good things happen to them but I am still unsure of how to do that in this novel.

My job is to tell a story. My second job is to raise awareness to alcoholism and how they affect families and loved ones. My third job is to entertain the reader and get them to love my characters as much as I do. I hope I have done all of these jobs well.

I’m excited about my project and I am excited about graduation. But just because I am receiving my diploma does not mean that the work ends here. I am going to continue to work on this story and make it the best it can be.

I still really need a title. Any suggestions?

Symposium Anxiety

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The whole point of me creating this blog was to archive my thoughts, process, and ideas as a writer. As I write my novel I take moments, like snapshots, from my process and I document them. I don’t expect anyone to read it. Its mainly a reflection for me to read one day when I’m feeling like I have accomplished nothing.

Today is that day. I’m not sure if it is the way I woke up this morning or the looming fact that I only have 4 more weeks of class and then graduation will be upon me and I will begin to feel the pressure to put my masters degree to work. I feel as if I have gotten no where with what I am doing for this project. Yes, I have words on paper. Digital paper that adds up to 75 virtual pages. Long gone is the ink to paper, now it is the systematic tapping of keys on a keyboard that load Times Roman letters on to a white “page” that stares back at me from my computer screen.

I guess I am starting to sound like a depressing starving writer haha.

I figured out what my reading will be for the symposium. I’m very nervous about reading my work in front of a bunch of strangers. I hope I receive positive feedback because I chose a section of my book that is extremely personal. It was also hard to find a excerpt that was short and concise but makes the audience want me to read more. I’ll have to read it out loud and time myself to see how long it will take. I am going to take some time to write out what I want to say next week. I think all of our projects are important and deserve to be heard. So I am happy we are having the symposium but I just don’t know if my project is that important that people will want to listen.

Like I said, I’m feeling a little down today. I’m just hoping I can pick myself back up by next week and write something positive to say.

Oh, did I mention that I still can’t figure out a title for my novel? Feeling stuck isn’t fun.

**Update: This is the excerpt that I read at the Symposium.


The light turned on and Amanda’s eyes fluttered open. Through a hazy and foggy view she looked towards the door. Standing within the crack, her mom was watching her sleep. She stumbles across the room to her bed. She pulls back the comforter and slides into her Sleeping Beauty sheets.

During this Amanda says nothing. Her mom puts her arms around her and holds her body tight. That’s when she feels the dampness on her face. Cheek to cheek she can taste the salty tears as she rubs them off on to her. She whimpers and tries hard to hold back the tears but Amanda can feel her shudder underneath the warm blankets. Amanda decides to squeeze her back and that is when she lets it all go.

Hard sobs and shaking shoulders, her mom is breaking down. At this point it comes as no surprise when she opens her mouth to speak to her. She can smell the stale sour breath that she breathes onto her face as she whispers, “I am so sad.”

Amanda knows how this works. She knows that this charade will never end if she doesn’t answer her. Every night for the past few months her mom has come to her late at night looking for her daughter to make her feel better. She has come to her for reassurance. She has come to her so that she can cry.

“Why are you so sad?,” Amanda whispers back.

She tells her how she met a man. A nice man who is good to her. He takes her places and tells her she is pretty. A nice man who makes her happy. Amanda lets her mom go on and on, because she doesn’t realize that she has told this story countless times before. She asks her about her dad and if he is a nice man.

“Your father is a great man,” she explains.

“Then why doesn’t he make you happy?” she asks as her mom closes her eyes and cries harder.

“You wouldn’t understand Mandy. You are too young to know how love works,” explains her mom.

Amanda then thinks about her dad, who works two jobs just to feed his family and keep a roof over their heads. She believes that her father is a good person.

Amanda knows that her mom is blinded and can’t see that she already has a great man. As Amanda’s mom tells her that she wants to leave her dad Amanda can’t help but notice that there is no pain in her mother’s eyes. No remorse for the hurt she will cause if she walks out the door.

Now her daughter is crying and her mother has no idea that she is the one causing her daughter’s pain. She can’t see because she can only see her own pain and the situation that she is in. Amanda decides that the worst part in all of this is she doesn’t think her mom even cares about what she is doing to her family.

“Please don’t tell your father about our late night talks, ok?”

“I promise,” whispers Amanda.

She promises because she loves her more than life it self. She would never tell anyone their secrets because that’s what daughters do.

She’s laying in bed with her now, still sobbing. Amanda, scared and unsure of what to do lays still next to her mom. She realizes that her mom only cares about Amanda keeping her secret. She holds her mom’s hand and tells her that everything is going to be all right. As her mom cries Amanda can’t help but wonder why she has to always be the parent. She just graduated 5th grade, she doesn’t feel qualified for this. But how could she not take care of her mother. Her mother always took care of her when she was sick or hurt. This must be a way for her to repay the favor.

Amanda feels her mom’s breathing get heavy. The crying has stopped and she is certain that her mom has fallen asleep. Amanda wipes the tears from her mom’s face with her blanket. She pulls the covers up a little bit further so they cover both of them and Amanda joins her mom and falls back to sleep.


Halfway There!

Today I focused on updating the outline for my novel. I wanted to have a reference point while I am writing just to gauge where it is that I want to go. Sometimes when i am focusing on little details in my writing it is hard to remember the big picture and what i want to accomplish. I chose to write my outline by chapters and what I want to accomplish in each chapter. As I started my writing I didn’t have a goal for page numbers or chapters. I wanted to write the story as best as I could and to make the story interesting and compelling and a story that other people will want to read. I am not sure how good I am doing of that but I like what I have written so far and I think that is what is most important.

So I found out that I am about halfway to my goal. When I finished my outline I realized that I framed it out so there will be about 28 chapters. I just started writing chapter 14 today so I guess that would roughly make this my halfway point. I now have a new goal of writing 3/4 of my novel before the due date. Dr. Z told me to shoot for 75 pages but I am at 70 now so my new goal is 100 pages. If I keep up the pace and the page count I should have a finished novel around 150 pages. I feel like this isn’t a lot but then I don’t want to force my story to be longer if it doesn’t need to be.

I also hit 22,000 words. This was an exciting point for me because when I first started I couldn’t even imagine having written 20 thousand words. But now that I am at the point that I am at, I am very happy with what I have accomplished. Thank goodness that it is spring break next week. This way I can get some extra time to write and not focus on other classes and schoolwork.

Happy Spring Break everyone!

Wine and Cheese

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Monday, instead of writing I went in to New York City. My boyfriend and I had an invite to a wine tasting at city winery in Manhattan. I have been working hard at school and work and I felt like it was the perfect time to relax. We got dressed up and took the train in and had classic New York bagels for breakfast on the way there.

Once we arrived we realized what we had gotten ourselves in to. My boyfriends friend had RSVPed us for this event. His friend owns a liquor store in Maplewood NJ called Village Wines. Well I didn’t realize that this was a corporate event. We walked in and they asked us who we were there to represent. Right away I knew the deal and we slid easily in to our characters. We acted as co-workers and pretended that we were there doing research to find interesting wines for our shelves at our liquor store. Right away I became entangled in my story telling. I met a French woman from the Burgundy region. She had me sample three of her wines. I told her all about my love of wine and how I enjoyed visiting France recently. Soon enough I realized I was playing a character.

Like all good story tellers I created background information for myself and my boyfriend. We tried wines from different reasons and did our best to ask the right questions. We were given a notebook of prices and contact info for each vineyard or winery. After trying a bottle of red wine that cost $1200 (yes, I was shocked too) we walked over to the cheese platter to talk.

I was enjoying myself so much. My boyfriend asked if I could use this as a story idea and thats when I told him, “everything in life can be a story idea.” But yes, he was right. I could easily right a story about our experience that day and I want to constantly look at things as a story idea or use something from my life as a small detail in a story. Isn’t that what life is about?

As I was stuffing my face with cheddar cheese and water (I was trying not to get drunk at such a professional event) my boyfriend noticed someone. He guy walks over and introduces himself. He is a wine buyer from NJ and plays hockey with my boyfriend. They start chatting and right away I am intrigued. I felt like I had a good amount of knowledge about wine but this guy blew me out of the water. Then he admits that this is his full time job. He goes to tastings all of the time to buy new wines for his chain of stores that he works for. You could just tell that he loves his job.

On the train ride home my mind was running with ideas for stories. It just goes to show that you never know what is going to bring you inspiration. Maybe I should drink wine more often haha.

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Writing a Sex Scene

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First off I don’t want my book to be like fifty shades of grey in any way possible. Second i didn’t plan on my book having this type of scene. But in every book I have ever read where there is a romance narrative there has been a sex scene. I guess this follows the saying that “sex sells” because women seem to read harlequin novels faster than any other genre. I am not one of those women but as I am writing a scene which highlights Amanda and Nate’s relationship I realize that I do enjoy the sex scenes. Only in the sense this it is an easy way to show a couple’s bond and the strength of their relationship. Hence how I started to write a sex scene.

Right away I realized how under qualified I am to write a good sex scene. As I read it over I realized that it felt weird and staged. Then I started to think about movies I’ve seen and yes, I even dabbled in some memories I have from my own romantic life. Soon I was able to come up with a believable scenario. Once I was done rewriting it I reread it and realized how awkward it was. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I had incorporated everything I figured would make it feel realistic but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure how to make it more believable and still appeal to women readers. I considered scrapping the whole page but then I thought that it had became an important part to the chapter. I didn’t want it to be cheesy or childish but I also didn’t want it to boarder on porn.

So I emailed the scene to my boyfriend. He might have to get an editorial note in my book for the amount of help he has given me. He read the scene and right away said it was sappy and boring. He also said he felt very awkward reading it. That I knew would happen, considering that it is a normal reaction. He wanted to help so he sent me some feedback on how I can jazz up the scene to seem more appealing. I took his pointers in to account and changed the scene so it made more sense. It now flows and doesn’t feel as awkward.

I wouldn’t say I am an expert writer. I also wouldn’t say I am extremely qualified to write a novel but I wanted this project to be a learning process. I realize now that it is. I am constantly learning during this process. Taking creative non fiction was like running a 5K. Writing a novel is like running a marathon. I now have to get used to pacing myself and pushing my writing to make it last for 200+ pages. But writing this sex scene taught me that I am always going to run in to obstacles during my writing journey. It is how I handle these obstacles that matters most.

Here is my completed sex scene that I am very proud of:

After dinner they lie down on the couch to watch a movie. Amanda quickly falls asleep on Nate’s chest. Normally when this happens Nate waits until the end and wakes her up. He tells her it is time for bed and they walk to the bedroom together to go to sleep. As the movie starts to wind down he feels his mind begin to wander.


He falls into a series of thoughts all which remind him of how attracted he is to his future wife. He flinches and returns from the daze. Now he is extremely turned on but Amanda is still sleeping. Feeling a bit romantic, he pauses the movie and stands up from the couch. He picks Amanda up in his arms. As he carries her to the bedroom, she wakes up and is instantly confused but yet surprised by the sudden knight in shining armor gesture. She smiles and kisses him on the cheek.


As Nate lays her down on the bed he leans in and kisses her. Amanda immediately senses that this is not just an ordinary good night kiss. She can tell that Nate is really in to her and in to this moment. Realizing this, she places her hands on the back of his neck and pulls him in, instantly becoming turned on. Nate then climbs on to the bed propping himself on top of her. He gazes in to Amanda’s beautiful eyes and whispers, “I love you” and without hesitation Amanda returns in a whisper the same three powerful words. Amanda can not believe how in love she truly is.


As Nate leans in to kiss her Amanda runs her fingers through his hair. She begins to unbutton his shirt and as she begins to take it off Nate kisses her harder. She wraps her legs around him and he holds her tighter. All of a sudden Nate pulls back and pauses. He wants to see Amanda’s face. He wants to see if she is as turned on as he is. Again they lock eyes and she immediately smiles.


Nate can tell that she wants him as bad as he wants her. Knowing this he continues by gently kissing her neck and shoulders. She begins to breathe harder and runs her nails down his back. She usually waits for Nate to take off her shirt but she cannot wait any longer and sits up. Nate watches as she is about to pull her blouse off over her head. Nate gently nudges her shoulder and signals for her to lie back down on her back. He nods his head no and Amanda looks puzzled. He begins to kiss her neck then moves to her chest. Amanda is trying to control how turned on she is but it doesn’t matter, Nate can tell.


He then whispers in her ear, “I want you so bad”. Amanda reaches down to remove Nate’s belt then unbuttons his pants. After she slides off his pants he takes her blouse and lifts it over her head dropping it to the floor.


Now they are ripping the remaining of each others clothes off and kissing harder. Amanda begins to kiss and gently bite his neck and Nate finally slides himself inside her. She breathes in deep and then relaxes as he moves back and forth on top of her. She wraps her legs around his lower back while he entangles his hands in her hair, pulling it just enough. He leans in to her and rests his head on her shoulder. She breathes in the scent of his hair while their breath quickens.


Amanda moans softly as Nate quickens his pace. He picks up his head and looks in to her eyes. He grabs her hips tightly and pulls her towards him. He rocks himself back and forth and Amanda can’t help but scream as her whole body begins to shake. Nate can’t help but think that this is the best sex they have ever had.


Nate immediately slows down sensing that Amanda needs a second to catch her breath. After a few seconds go by she tells Nate to lie on his back. She climbs on top of him and again Nate slides inside her. Nate loves it when Amanda takes control, but what he loves more is watching her beautiful body on top of his.


As she begins moving back and forth slowly she can sense Nate is close to letting go but is fighting it. She then speeds up her pace. Nate grabs her chest with one hand and her side with the other and stays, “don’t stop, don’t stop.”


Amanda can’t help but smile as she watches Nate’s whole body tense. Just then he lets go. Amanda can still feel him inside her as their breath slows down. Nate then makes eye contact and takes a big deep breath. He rolls on to his side and pulls her close to him. He wraps his arms around her and kisses her on her cheek and says, “I can’t believe I’m marrying the girl of my dreams.”


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I’m not sure what caused it but I recently had a breakthrough. I was struggling with the connection that my book has to my personal life. I was struggling to answer all of these questions I had about my book. How far do I take the flashbacks in to my past? How do i shape Amanda’s family, do I include my brother? How will the father’s characteristics match my own father’s personality? How do I handle the relationship between Amanda and her mother when I don’t have a relationship with my own mother? I expressed a lot of these concerns to my colleagues and they were very helpful in telling me that I am the writer. No one is expecting me to write this a certain way. They told me to write it the way that I want to and be true to myself. So i have decided to follow their advice. I also found that with long periods of writing I get sucked in to Amanda’s world and I start thinking like her. I’m no longer Melissa and thinking in my cynical ways. Amanda has a different outlook on life. She tries to make the best of everything and although she settles for what life hands her she also knows that she still has a choice with what happens in her life.

I have been writing for a collective 4 hours in the past 2 days and I plan on writing all the way up until class time. I was just trying to take a break from a tough scene to get this blog post done. I find that when I continue to write for an hour straight that Amanda’s world writes itself. I finally introduced her dad and I have written him with some of my dad’s characteristics but his personality is very different from my dad and I am ok with that because I would like to distance my family from this as much as I can. This is a work of fiction not a memoir. I want to keep my options open for how I write the scenes with her mom but I will get to that when the time comes. The good news is that in the past two days I have written 9 pages. I am working towards a goal of 15 pages by Sunday. I have 9 more to go. Hopefully I can work on this more this weekend but we will see how tired I am from work. I am just happy to find that I am having less trouble than I thought I would with some of the stories details.

Al-Anon Meeting

Thursday I left class early to attend a Al-anon meeting at a baptist church in Union. I was running a little late because I did not anticipate the traffic getting out of the parking lot and on to Morris avenue. I arrived at the church about 10 minutes late. I was so anxious because I really didn’t want to join the meeting late. When I walked in the place was deserted. I found a church member who said that the meeting for that night had been cancelled last minute. Of course, the one night I had decided to attend there was no meeting. Part of me was relieved due to my lateness but the other part of me was disappointed because I finally felt ready to participate in a meeting.

This has been a long time coming for me. As a teen I tried to attend an al-ateen meeting. I broke down in tears the day I was supposed to attend. My aunt who was going to drive me there turned right around when I started sobbing in the car. She told me I wasn’t ready yet and when I was I would find the strength to go on my own. She was right, and about 10 years later I feel ready. I returned home to search on the website again for other meetings. I found a meeting in Cranford at 7:30 on Thursday nights. I will be attending that this week and I found a meeting in Rahway which is down the street from my house on Mondays. I am hoping to switch my schedule at work to attend this meeting.

I was looking forward to this for my creative process and to hopefully get some ideas for character development and plot format for my book but I guess I will have to focus on that in my book. Maybe I can take this experience and turn it in to something Amanda can experience in my book. I am excited to get some writing done in the next few days. I have been exhausted from late nights at my job but this is my last semester and I would be crazy to start slacking off now.

See you all Thursday!


**Update: I decided against attending an Al-Anon meeting. I want Amanda’s story to be as accurate as possible but also as fictional as possible. I felt that going to an Al-Anon meeting would bring up old feelings from the past and I didn’t want that to cloud my judgement on how this novel should play out.

Keeping My Creative Work Safe

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After last week’s meeting I realized that Dr. Zamora and my classmates had no idea what my progress was on my writing. I was afraid to post too much of my work on the internet so I decided to make a google doc folder with all of my work included. In this folder I will have my literature review, my outline for my novel and my working novel as I decide to add things. This way I can document my progress but my writing won’t be so public. This is also a great way to keep all of my work in one place so i can stay organized.

I’m not completely comfortable with posting my novel online but I have decided to occasionally post excerpts and scenes. Here is the outline of my novel:


Novel Outline


Ch. 1 – Flashback


Ch. 2 & 3 – Explaining amanda’s life in the present and how she met her fiance.


Ch. 4 – Flashback


Ch. 5 – wedding dress shopping


Ch. 6 – Flashback


Ch. 7 – Sunday dinner with dad to discuss relationship with mom


Ch. 8 – discussion about mom with fiance


Ch. 9 – Flashback


Ch. 10 – conflict with mother


Ch. 11 – Flashback (parents fight)


Ch. 12 – Nate’s parents come to visit


Ch 13 – Flashback


Ch 14 – Amanda contacts her aunt


Ch 15 – flashback (dinner with boyfriend)


Ch 16 – Amanda contacts her mom


Ch 17 – flashback (suicide attempt)


Ch 18 – Wedding planning


Ch 19 – Flashback (days after in hospital)


Ch 20 – Amanda’s mom contacts her


Ch 21 – Flashback (family vacation)


Ch 22- Amanda sends out an invitation to her mom

Ch 23 – Flashback (another late night fight)


Ch 24 – Amanda and Nate fight over wedding details


Ch 25 – Flashback (mom leaves)


Ch 26 – Days before the wedding


Ch 27 – Flashback (8th grade dance & prom)


Ch 28 – Amanda gets ready for her wedding


The End


  • The flashbacks create a narrative between child Amanda and adult Amanda.
  • The flashbacks are also used to introduce the mother and her alcoholism
  • Present day allows Amanda’s story to continue and the reader can follow the narrative of following the process of planning a wedding.
  • Create a relationship and bond between Amanda and Nate. How does her mom affect their relationship?


Conflict: How does Amanda’s mom fit into the equation of her life and her planning her wedding.


Resolution: Amanda has to decide how to form a relationship with her mom while dealing with her alcoholism.

New Year, New Semester, New Attitude

Last semester I will admit that i was overwhelmed and stressed. I found it hard to find time to work on my thesis and I let it slide to the backseat because of my other course work. I will not let that happen again this semester. My thesis is going to take center stage and I will schedule my time wisely to work on my other course work. I am also hoping that the weekly meetings on Thursdays will help me keep track of my progress. The scariest part is the volume of the writing that I need to get done. It is a lot of writing in a short period of time. I just have to push myself and stay focused. I did finalize the way i am starting my novel. I’m excited about it, here is an excerpt.


Chapter 1




She woke up on the floor. The musty dark green carpet left red marks on her face. The blanket and pillow she grabbed from the couch had a distinct smell of cigarette smoke and body odor. She sits up slowly, she wants to take inventory of the room.

She doesn’t like this house. Her mom drags her here every once in a while. Its usually after the bar closes. She is always looking for an after party to drink more beer and gab about the old days. Last night they stayed up late. Talking about old boyfriends and high school while they heated up leftovers and drank out of red and white aluminum cans.

The party went on for what felt like hours. They were at the bar until it closed. Amanda, the only 8-year-old drinking Shirley temples at the bar couldn’t hold back her yawns any longer. Her mom loaded her in the car and told her that they were making a quick stop on the way home. That’s what she always said.

They stop at the house with the fading yellow exterior. The house looked miserable, the paint was chipping from the brown shutters, the grass patchy and dying. A feeling of dread washes over her. This is the same feeling she gets every time her mom drunkenly pulls up and parks outside this house. She opens up the car door and follows her mother inside.

The kids are still up and running around the living room. Four boys are practicing wrestling moves while WWE glows from the TV screen. She tries to join in on the raucous and gets ignored by the boys. They are older and they don’t know how to play with a younger girl. Amanda sits on the couch and watches. After a couple of minutes, she walks to the kitchen to see what her mom is up to. Hands waving around she is telling a story to the mother of the four boys who sits across from her at the kitchen table. The table is chipped and cracked. The ashtrays overflow with dark gray ash and the cans they drink from leave watery rims. They have cigarettes in one hand and a beer can in the other. They chat intimately because they are old friends but Amanda feels shy in their presence. She goes unnoticed standing in the doorway. She turns around and walks out of the room.

The boys have gone upstairs and Amanda can faintly hear the sounds of the PlayStation system. The boys start screaming over who gets to play the video game. Not wanting to be involved with the argument Amanda decides to stay downstairs. She grabs a blanket from the couch and a pillow and curls up on the floor. She just wants to be left alone. Sleep begins to take over her and she wishes she was home in her own bed.

Now its morning and Amanda can’t find her mom. Last she saw of her was before she passed out on the couch. She could faintly hear her mom’s friend telling a story in the kitchen as she closed her eyes to fall asleep.

Now she goes from the living room to the dining room, checks the bathroom and the back porch. Finally, she finds her mom, in the kitchen, with her head on the table and drool oozing out of her mouth. She wants to go home but she knows that there is no way to wake her mom. Amanda sits down at the kitchen table and waits for her to wake up.


I will probably be tweaking it as time goes on but that is the idea for my intro in to the story.

My Lit Review!

So I spent a few days working on my lit review. I was excited to find a few books that I want to buy and read over winter break about my topic. I think they will be really helpful.

Here is my completed Lit Review that I plan on using during the course of my writing process.

Literature Review – Thesis project

Melissa Libbey

This is my literature review. I have decided to look for texts and articles that chronicle the effects of an alcoholic parent on their children. Family dynamics and relationships are generally affected by an alcoholic family member. I am trying to find literature that supports that idea. Also because I am writing a creative piece I am trying to find other creative works within the same category to help me with truth telling and to find inspiration.

Hafner, Katie. “Mother Daughter Me: a Memoir.” Penguin Random House. 2013       

Synopsis:  The complex, deeply binding relationship between mothers and daughters is brought vividly to life in Katie Hafner’s remarkable memoir, an exploration of the year she and her mother, Helen, spent working through, and triumphing over, a lifetime of unresolved emotions.

Dreaming of a “year in Provence” with her mother, Katie urges Helen to move to San Francisco to live with her and Zoë, Katie’s teenage daughter. Katie and Zoë had become a mother-daughter team, strong enough, Katie thought, to absorb the arrival of a seventy-seven-year-old woman set in her ways.

Filled with fairy-tale hope that she and her mother would become friends, and that Helen would grow close to her exceptional granddaughter, Katie embarked on an experiment in intergenerational living that she would soon discover was filled with land mines: memories of her parents’ painful divorce, of her mother’s drinking, of dislocating moves back and forth across the country,  and of Katie’s own widowhood and bumpy recovery. Helen, for her part, was also holding difficult issues at bay.

How these three women from such different generations learn to navigate their challenging, turbulent, and ultimately healing journey together makes for riveting reading. By turns heartbreaking and funny—and always insightful—Katie Hafner’s brave and loving book answers questions about the universal truths of family that are central to the lives of so many.

Kurutz, Steven. “‘Mother Daughter Me’: A Feel-Good Experiment That Wasn’t” The New York Times. July 3 , 2013.

Synopsis: As Ms. Hafner chronicles in her new memoir, “Mother Daughter Me” (Random House, $26), The New York Times interviews her about what it ws like to write this memoir and what hr past was like with an alcoholic mother. She explains her experiment in mother-daughter-granddaughter bonding and how miscommunication can kick off a half-year of simmering resentments (though the tone is not comic).

Kritsberg, Wayne. “Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome: A Step By Step Guide To Discovery And Recovery.” Published in 1988.

Synopsis: More than 28 million Americans grew up in alcoholic families. They bear a painful legacy of confusion, fear, anger and hurt–and they are at shockingly high risk of marrying an alcoholic or becoming alcoholics themselves. In this authoritative book, Wayne Kritsberg shows how to recognize–and remedy–the long-term effects of the dysfunctional, alcoholic family. His proven techniques, based on extensive clinical experience using the Family Integration System offer REAL help and REAL hope for adult children of alcoholics–and those they love.

Dayton, Dr. Tian. “The ACoA Trauma Syndrome: What Is an ACoA?” The Huffington Post. Novemeber 19, 2012.

Synopsis: A description of a syndrome that children of alcoholics are effected by. It is described that when the child is young they suppress memories or feelings associated with the alcoholic relative. It describes how these feelings can be brought back by experiences. For example “The past we thought we’d neatly left behind once we got tall enough, old enough or smart enough intrudes onto our present and we are returned, in the blink of an eye, to childhood states of emotion and along with them floods of feelings and images that we “forgot” were there.”

Marion H. Typpo. Ph.D. “An Elephant In The Living Room – Leader’s Guide: A Leader’s Guide For Helping Children Of Alcoholics.” Hazelden Publishing, 1994

Synopsis: Professionals and other adult helpers will learn basic information in order to help children cope with an addicted parent or sibling. Offers practical guidance to education and health care professionals who help young people cope with a family member’s chemical dependency as it explains the disease of chemical dependency and the psychology of child development.

Woititz, Janet Geringer Ed.D. “Adult Children of Alcoholics” Health Communications INC. 1983

Synopsis: Janet Woititz broke new ground in our understanding of what it is to be an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. Today she re-examines the movement and its inclusion of Adult Children from various dysfunctional family backgrounds who share the same characteristics. After more than ten years of working with ACoAs she shares the recovery hints that she has found to work. Read Adult Children of Alcoholics to see where the journey began and for ideas on where to go from here.

Johnson, Jeannette L. PhD*, Leff, Michelle MD. Children of Substance Abusers: Overview of Research Findings” American Academy of Pediactrics. 1999.

Hill, Elizabeth M. Nord, Janet L. Blow, Frederic C. “Young-adult children of alcoholic parents: protective effects of positive family functioning.” British Journal of Addiction. December 1, 1992.

Abstract: The occurrence of alcoholism is clustered within families, but the detrimental effect of a positive family history may vary with the degree of family impairment involved. In this study, we assessed the effects of family history and family environment on alcohol misuse. From ongoing studies we recruited parents who had a child aged 18-30, 20 with a DSM-III-R alcohol dependence diagnosis, 20 without. The child then completed a multidimensional assessment. The young-adult participants included 20 men and 20 women (mean age=24.8). Differences by family history were restricted to substance abuse behaviors. While a high level of alcohol problems occurred in both groups, those with an alcohol-dependent parent were more likely to be heavy drinkers and showed more symptoms of alcohol dependence. Overall psychological adjustment did not differ between the groups, however. Alcohol misuse measures did correlate moderately with symptoms of poor emotional health. The most important correlates of alcohol misuse measures in this study were exposure to parental alcoholism, abusive punishment, and psychological symptoms, with some separation of effects in the two subgroups. Psychological symptoms had a stronger relationship with misuse in subjects with social-drinking parents, while abuse was more associated in the group with an alcohol-dependent parent. These results confirm the importance of environmental interactions with familial risk. A biological vulnerability from an alcohol-dependent parent was not sufficient or necessary for the participants in this study to develop alcohol dependence as a young adult, although there was an increased risk. There appear to be strong protective effects of positive family relationships on the potential negative effects of a family history of alcoholism.

Larson, Jeffry H. Reedy, Brad M. “Family Process as a Mediator of the Negative Effects of Parental Alcoholism on Young Adult Dating Relationships.” American Journal of Family Therapy. July 1, 2004.

Abstract: The effects of parental alcoholism on young adult dating relationship quality (trust, intimacy, commitment, and satisfaction) were considered in the context of the mediating variable of family process (cohesion, conflict resolution, and family competence). A model was tested with a sample of 287 young adults (95 were adult children of alcoholics) that suggested that healthier family process mediates the negative effects of having an alcoholic parent on dating relationship quality. Structural equation modeling results showed that the model fit the data. Young adults from alcoholic families in which family process was less negatively affected by parental alcoholism were less likely to report lower dating relationship quality than those from families in which family process was more negatively affected by parental alcoholism. Parental divorce was directly related to lower relationship quality. Clinical implications for working with young adult children of alcoholics are discussed.

Veronie, Linda Fruehstorfer, David B. “Gender, Birth Order and Family Role Identification among Adult Children of Alcoholics.” Current Psychology March 1, 2001

Abstract: Much attention has been paid to the influence of family dynamics in role identification development for the children of alcoholics. This article considers the development of stable and enduring behavior traits for the child through examination of alcoholic parent(s)gender, child birth order, and child gender correlates. An examination of the main and interaction effects of child gender, gender of the alcohol parent(s), and child birth order on strength of identification with the Hero, Scapegoat, Mascot or Lost Child family roles revealed significant gender differences for the Mascot, and Lost Child roles. The presence of two alcoholic parents was significant in producing diminished strength of identification with Mascot role behaviors.

Lo, Celia C. Cheng, Tyrone C. “Onset Drinking: How It Is Related Both to Mother’s Drinking and Mother–Child Relationships.” Substance Use & Misuse. May 1, 2010

Abstract: Employing the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) as a sample of adolescents and their mothers, the present study connected the onset of adolescents’ drinking to certain posited risk and protective factors characterizing their families. Via event history analysis and the discrete-time method, the data analysis involved more than 6,331 pair-interview-year units. The results show that both peer influences and mother’s daily alcohol consumption enhance the risk that an adolescent aged between 10 and 14 years will begin drinking. At the same time, the quality of a mother’s relationship with her child is an important posited protective factor delaying onset drinking.

Tyrlík, Mojmír Konečný, Štšpán “Moderate Alcohol Consumption as a Mediator of Mother’s Behaviour Towards her Child.” Central European Journal of Public Health September 2011.

Abstract: Aim: The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of moderate drinking on mother’s behaviour towards her child. Method: The European Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ELSPAC) survey sample consisted of 3,569 Czech women, who were interviewed when their children were 18 months old. There were three areas related to mother child relationship investigated: hygiene, activities with the child, and the mother’s emotional relationship with the child. Besides alcohol consumption, we also evaluated the mother’s neuroticisms. Results: Our results suggest that the behaviour of moderate drinking mothers differs from the behaviour of abstaining mothers. The abstinents express more emotions for the child, they handle better the demands of maternity and pay more attention to needs for child’s educative activities. Significant differences were not noticed in the frequency of physical activities with the child (cuddling, physical playing, walks). Conclusion: Our data supports the assumption that moderate drinking of a mother is disadvantageous for the child as compared to abstinence. The abstinents display a higher level of concern about the child.

Pearson, Matthew R. D’Lima, Gabrielle M. Kelley, Michelle L. Maternal and Paternal Alcohol Misuse and Alcohol-Related Outcomes Among College Students.” Substance Use & Misuse. April 1, 2012.

Abstract: Using a large college student sample ( N == 1,095), the present study examined whether the relationship between parental alcohol abuse and offspring alcohol use varied as a function of parent and offspring gender, and whether the relationship to the non-substance-abusing mother or father buffered against the risk associated with being an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA). Among women, maternal ACOAs (i.e., the mother only was suspected of alcohol misuse) had the greatest risk of problematic alcohol consumption, whereas among men, both parent ACOAs (i.e., both parents were suspected of alcohol misuse) had the greatest risk of problematic alcohol consumption. No support was found for the buffering hypothesis. We discuss implications of our findings and future directions.

Lacy, Meagan “Portraits of Children of Alcoholics: Stories that Add Hope to Hope.” Children’s Literature in Education. October 2015.

Abstract: This literary analysis examines the emergence of children of alcoholics narratives and their growth from ‘resource’ texts to literary subgenre. While early texts offer useful information about parental alcoholism, they are also limited. Namely, they do not adequately mirror the diversity of children, families, and problems associated with parental alcoholism nor do they offer alternatives for children whose parents do not, or cannot, seek treatment for their addiction. Literature, on the other hand, in inviting what philosopher Martha Nussbaum refers to as ‘narrative play,’ can help children learn to understand and empathize with others, nourish their inner curiosity, and, most importantly, tolerate ambiguity in the face of an imperfect world. Thus, this paper presents and examines three literary narratives about children of alcoholics: Gary Paulsen’s Harris and Me (), Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian (), and Tom Robbins’ B is for Beer (). By providing characters and situations with which they can identify, these stories possess potential to validate the feelings that children of alcoholics often experience. At the same time, by offering models of strength and hope, these stories can also help broaden and awaken new perspectives so that children of alcoholics might envision a different life for themselves and reject the pattern of self-victimization and the cycle of alcoholism. Humor, a dominant feature throughout all three narratives, is identified as an especially effective means of discussing this topic with younger audiences. Teachers and librarians can draw on this examination to better guide their selection of texts for young readers, especially for those who are burdened by parental addiction and/or family dysfunction.

Vaught, Emily L. Prince Wittman, Peggy A Phenomenological Study of the Occupational Choices of Individuals Who Self Identify as Adult Children of Alcoholics.” Journal of Occupational Science. Oct 2011.

Abstract: The purpose of this smallscale qualitative study was to explore the meaning to participants of their occupational choices. The participants were six adult females, not currently enrolled in college courses, who self-identifed as an adult children of alcoholics. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews which were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Following transcription, data was analyzed following standard qualitative methods of coding and thematic analysis. Four themes were found: “Limitations in Occupational Choices,” “Creating Consistency in Adulthood,” “The Devil and God,” and “I Don’t Think I’d Change It.” Implications for understanding individuals’ occupational choices, related to childhood occupational deprivation and assumption of parental roles, are identified.