Risking the Rapids
Release Date  
Pages   252
ISBN-13  978-1-63353-887-0
Categories  

Risking the Rapids

How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood

By Irene O'Garden

#1 Amazon New Release! ─ A Memoir and portrait of a family at its worst and its 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 throughout much of Minnesota. Whether forecasting weather and trading wisecracks with the anchor on the nightly news, pitching for sponsors Montgomery Ward and King Koil Mattresses, or hosting a Saturday night movie, he was a man people trusted. (For one thing, he’d warn them if the movie they were about to watch was a dud. “Go to bed,” he’d say.) 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.

Escalating intensity to excruciating climaxes: As O’Garden’s father becomes more popular, her mother sinks deeper into narcissism and meanness. The author becomes her principal target. The family itself becomes a microcosm of the cultural transformations from the 50s to the 60’s, when authoritarian structures were challenged and discarded by young protestors. Don becomes more reactionary, and his authoritarian fathering begins backfiring. While one son enlists and is sent to Vietnam, another becomes a conscientious objector, bringing emotional firestorms to the family table. The mother is emotionally unreachable. In a parallel time, the wilderness trip grows life-threatening when unpredictable weather strikes. Lives are at risk. Both stories build with escalating intensity to excruciating climaxes, which leave the reader moved and illuminated.

Select format

$18.99

You May Also Like

Book of Awesome Women Writers

By

This one-of-a-kind tome takes a tour with Sylvia Beach and other booksellers as well as librarians, editors, writers, bibliophiles, and celebrated book clubs. Join women’s studies scholar Anders as she takes you on a ribald ride through the pages of history. Chapter titles include "Prolific Pens" (including Joyce Carol Oates, author of over 100 books), "Mystics, Memoirists and Madwomen", "Salons and Neosalons", "Ink in Their Veins" (literary dynasties), and the titillating "Banned, Blacklisted, and Arrested."
Read more

The Best New True Crime Stories

They can be your neighbor. They can be your friend. They can even be your spouse.

Serial killers. Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer are often the first names that spring to mind. Many people assume serial killers are primarily an American phenomenon that came about in the latter part of the twentieth century. But such assumptions are far from the truth. Serial killers have been around for a very long time and can be found in every corner of the globe—and they’re not just limited to the male gender either. Some of them have been caught and brought to justice whereas others have never been found, let alone identified. These individuals can be anywhere. And scarier still, they can be anyone.

Edited by acclaimed author and anthologist Mitzi Szereto, The Best New True Crime Stories: Serial Killers features the very best all-new accounts of serial killers from the contemporary to the historic. The international list of contributors includes award-winning crime writers, true-crime podcasters, journalists, and experts in the field such as Martin Edwards, Lee Mellor, Danuta Kot, Craig Pittman , Richard O. Jones, Rachel Franks, Mike Browne and Vicki Hendricks.

The Best New True Crime Stories: Serial Killers will leave you wondering if it’s ever really possible to know who’s behind the mask you’re allowed to see.

Read more

Women of Means

By

Heiresses have always been viewed with eyes of envy: they were the ones for whom the cornucopia had been upended, showering them with unimaginable wealth and opportunity. However, oftentimes the weaving sisters saved their most heart-wrenching tapestries for their destinies. The public has always been riveted by these larger than life ladies: as eye witnesses to live theater, for schadenfreude, for foray into irony. Criteria for inclusion entails birth or nuptials as the recipient of ‘the lucky sperm club’ the recipients of a many-splendored bank account. Christina Onassis: The oxymoron ‘poor little rich girl’ existed prior to heiress Christina Onassis, but she was its ill-starred embodiment. Her life was woven with the thread of Greek tragedy: she lost her entire family in the span of two years and her four husbands brought only heartache. She passed away at age thirty-seven in Argentina: her heart which had been abused and broken, finally gave out. She was interred in the family’s private island of Skorpios, beside her brother and father, whose term of affection for his daughter was “chryso mou” “my gold.”
Read more

God and Love on Route 80

By

As a teen at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, the author had a recurring dream of a youth about to jump off a ledge somewhere out west. Guided by the dream as if a premonition, the boy journeyed across the country on Rt. 80 and encountered the youth on the Golden Gate Bridge where the dream became a reality as he rescued the youth in an episode of synchronicity. At that moment, the boy understood that while we exist in different places and at different times we are all inevitably intertwined, and that coincidences are just God’s way of being anonymous. GOD AND LOVE ON RT. 80 weaves together thirteen episodes of synchronicity from Post’s journey to demonstrate the power of human connectedness and the value in being open and hopeful to surprises. It’s a book that fits in the long tradition of successful metaphysical titles like The Teachings of Don Juan, Be Here Now, The Secret, The Power of Now, and Loving What Is, but by a highly regarded scientist whose work has been praised by his peers and popular readers alike.
Read more

Zen Bender

By

Hooked on Self-Help

A craving for quick fixes: When the recession turned her life upside down, Stephanie Krikorian had to reinvent her life…and fast. She started ghostwriting self-help books for women. Between writing and researching she realized that everywhere she looked there was AFOG. Another fu*king opportunity for growth. Soon she wasn’t just writing each book; she was living them! This was the start of a ten-year zen bender of dieting, dating, journaling, meditating, and Marie-Kondo-ing on a quest for that ultimate self-help high.

Fifty and fabulous: Stephanie Krikorian spent her forties trying all of the dating hacks to find love and respect, all of the diets to build self-esteem in a new body, and all of the spiritual guidance to become centered through self-care. On the brink of turning fifty she realized that being better wasn’t what she craved; it was something else altogether.

How to love yourself: Zen Bender is the story of one woman’s journey to radical acceptance and self-love, with some questionable advice along the way. In a collection of witty, moving, insightful stories, the woman behind bestselling celebrity self-help books shares her story of being hooked on the self-help fix for a decade before learning that all the self-help in the world won’t create self-love.

A self-confidence book for women: For anyone tired of promises to change everything in just thirty days, this book is a breath of fresh air. Readers who enjoyed self-confidence books for women like The Universe Has Your BackThe Self-Love ExperimentThe Gifts of Imperfection, and Yoga Bitch will love the message of radical acceptance in Zen Bender: A Decade-Long Enthusiastic Quest to Fix Everything (That Was Never Broken).

Read more

Depression Hates a Moving Target

By

Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, recounts Nita Sweeney's transformation from a 49-year-old, chronically depressed, sometimes manic central Ohio woman who could barely jog for sixty seconds into a somewhat less depressed, somewhat more sane runner who completed the full Columbus Marathon. Witty and poignant by turns, the story will not only have you cheering on a perfect stranger as she faces emotional and physical challenges, but will leave you knowing it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Read more