Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back

Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back

by Claire Fontaine, Mia Fontaine


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In powerful parallel stories, mother and daughter give mesmerizing first-person accounts of the nightmare that shattered their family and the amazing journey they took to find their way back to each other. Claire Fontaine's relentless cross-country search for her missing child and ultimate decision to force her into treatment in Eastern Europe is a gripping tale of dead ends, painful revelations, and, at times, miracles. Mia Fontaine describes her refuge in the seedy underworld of felons and addicts as well as the jarring shock of the extreme, if loving, school that enabled her to overcome depression and self-loathing. Both women detail their remarkable process of self-examination and healing with humor and unsparing honesty.

Come Back is an unforgettable true story of love and transformation that will resonate with mothers and daughters everywhere.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061567575
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/12/2008
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 268,045
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 10.62(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine are the coauthors of the bestselling memoir Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back.

A former screenwriter, Claire divides her time between the United States and Europe, where she is researching a historical novel and doing a comparative analysis of les éclairs au chocolat de Paris. She is also a certified relationship coach and a certified life coach.

A popular motivational speaker, Mia has written for the New York Times, Huffington Post, Ms. magazine, and Atlantic Online, and is currently at work on a narrative nonfiction book that combines four of her greatest interests: travel, human behavior, history, and culture. She lives in New York City.

Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine are the coauthors of the bestselling memoir Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back.

A former screenwriter, Claire divides her time between the United States and Europe, where she is researching a historical novel and doing a comparative analysis of les éclairs au chocolat de Paris. She is also a certified relationship coach and a certified life coach.

A popular motivational speaker, Mia has written for the New York Times, Huffington Post, Ms. magazine, and Atlantic Online, and is currently at work on a narrative nonfiction book that combines four of her greatest interests: travel, human behavior, history, and culture. She lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Come Back

A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back
By Claire Fontaine

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Claire Fontaine
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060792167

Chapter One

It is its own religion, this love. Uncontainable, savage, and without end, it is what I feel for my child.

She signs everything she gives me, "Your one and only daughter, Mia," or, "Your One True Child, Mia." Curled into my lap, she reads about the baby bird that fell from the nest and can't find her mommy. Mia squishes into my chest, "I'm glad I came out of your egg, Mudder."

From the moment I take her out into the world, we hear it, every day -- those eyes! Mia has huge, pale eyes, with pale blue whites, framed by a mass of amber curls. But the brows leap out above them -- they're thick, wide, shiny dark swoops. Like the brows of ancient Persian women, painted in profile. "My God, where did she get those eyes -- is she adopted?" "Are those brows real?" "She's not yours, is she?" This we hear often; it frightens her. She has no idea we look nothing alike. She thinks we are identical.

My fear that the constant ogling will make her vain seems confirmed when I overhear her, at age four, at the bathroom mirror, murmuring, "Those fabayous eyes! She is so gordzuss." I wince, moving to the door to have a little talk on the importance of inner beauty, then stop,still unseen by her. She's referring to Betty Ann, the doll that was once mine, smiling down at her. She then scowls at the imaginary idiot who'd dare question their relationship, "Of course, she's mine! Mine, all mine!"

I step back in silent mirth, happy that what she takes from those encounters is how much I love her. Before I had Mia, I had never deeply loved, nor felt deeply loved. I was unshared.

Mia is fifteen now, and she and I are in the clouds above Austria. The sun has not risen and she is spread across her seat and mine, asleep. I watch her sleep, as I have done nearly every night of her life. We are on our way to eastern Europe. Not to see castles or rivers or onion-domed villas. Not to see long-lost family. Not even to see each other. I am leaving her there.

Mia will be locked up. She is broken now. Thin, pink scars beribbon her thighs and stomach, her ankles are bruised by a felon's leg shackles, her wrists by handcuffs. She is medically malnourished and made up like a whore. Inside, she is dark and damaged and gone. I don't know when I'll see her again. I don't know if I'll ever see her again, my one true child. My desperate hope is that she can be repaired, even badly patched. Mostly, though, I simply hope they can keep her, that she does not escape, as she has done again and again and again and again. Each time to do worse things with worse people, criminals finally. The only thing left would be death, hers or someone else's.

I look down at her, both of us just skin and bone and thin, little breaths. What's left of me staring at what's left of her.

January 30, six months ago to the day, I am absurdly happy. I'm adapting a book I love into a screenplay for an Oscar-winning producer; my husband, Paul, is my best friend, and tomorrow we're putting in a bid to buy our first home. Most of all, I'm Mia's mom. The wise, funny, sparkling Mia who still wants lullabies and butterfly kisses each night. My mother is flying in tomorrow to visit; Mia hasn't seen her Bubbie in two years.

It's a cold, gray day. Mia woke early with a sore throat and fever. I made her favorite soup before I left because I know I'll be working past her bedtime tonight for the first time in her life. The story outline of the screenplay is due tomorrow.

The book I'm adapting is beautifully written but has no dramatic structure, no story to film. Creating one has been my task. It tells of a woman who has lost a child and found herself in another world, foreign and hostile.

Mia calls my office twice to tell me she loves me. There's something in her voice, subtle. It's not her usual, comfort-me sick voice. This voice is tender, as if I am the one in need of comfort. She calls again at nine in the evening to ask for a lullaby. I've sung them to her across the nation. Hushabye, my little darling and I'll see you in the morning.

I have no idea.

I drive home after midnight, feeling such a sense of good fortune. I'm pleased with what I've written, I'm buying a house tomorrow, I have the weekend free to spend with my family. The rain has cleaned LA's dirty sky and the moon and stars are brilliant.

As I walk to my back door, I see that Mia's bedroom window is open, the one by her bed. It's freezing outside. I come in asking Paul about her. He's still at his drafting table. He's a graphic designer and has a deadline tomorrow, too.

"I checked her twenty minutes ago, she's sound asleep."

"With the window open?"

He looks up from his drawing, puzzled. "Of course not."

We walk back to check on her, wondering if she opened it because of her fever. Her room is dark, ice cold, the curtains billow softly at the open window. Paul goes to shut the window as I go to her bed to check her forehead -- but she's not there.

"Paul, where's Mia?"

Paul checks her bathroom.

"She's not in here -- "

We're suddenly a tornado of fear and sound, hollering Mia!Mia!

Mia!, slapping on lights, whipping through rooms and closets -- ohmyGodohmyGod, she's gone, someone's taken her -- someone's kidnapped my daughter, my baby girl!

The laws of physics and biology change. Air thickens, has substance, like oil. Light is suddenly crystalline, astringent; my pupils screw down. . . .


Excerpted from Come Back by Claire Fontaine Copyright ©2006 by Claire Fontaine. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Susan Forward

“A powerful and moving story of two brave women who struggled through darkness into the light.”

Leah Komaiko

“One of those rare books I could hardly put down until I finished. . . . Brilliant—and often funny, too!”

Edwin John Wintle

“A rare, visceral reading experience....Offering lessons in living, loving, and accepting responsibility that could benefit every reader.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Come Back 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 133 reviews.
cnb29 More than 1 year ago
This book is a heavy read and goes into great detail the abuse suffered by Mia (the daughter) and the real life struggles of the "other" parent (Claire) as she realizes, accepts and fights the past, present and future ramifications of not only adolescent sexual abuse, but drug abuse and a host of other emotional problems that can only be described as unbelievable, but true. Read this book!!! If there is a female in your life, read this and learn the power of a mother's love!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Claire and Mia's story is the most real memoir I've ever read. As the mother of a heroin addicted daughter and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it truly hit home. Claire's story was dead on as to what it's like to watch your child destroy her life. I've said the words and thought the thoughts in this book over and over. As far as Mia, in some cases, she said the exact same things I've heard from my own daughter so many times. As an abuse survivor, it helped me to understand so much of the pain and confusion that go along with being a survivor. For any parent who has gone through the hell and insanity that is drug addiction, this book gives some amazing insight into the hard work that is required for recovery. I hope and pray with each day that my daughter and I reach the point that Claire and Mia have.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book glorifies the organization formerly known as WWASPS. Morava was shut down. The "school" that Mia then transferred to in Utah has a known history of abuse. The book mentioned a girl who was currently held in isolation in a small building referred to as The Hobbit. There is a picture of The Hobbit on the web, along with stories of some teens who survived their time at WWASPS facilities and a few teens who did not. An irresponsible editorial decision was made to publish this book. SHAME ON YOU Harper-Collins. And shame on the parents who send/have sent their teens off to such places without visiting them first. The writing in this book reflects the ease in which decent human beings can get sucked in by an aggressive internet advertizing campaign. A cult-like primer at best. Skip this book and read about the experiences of WWASPS survivors instead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Claire and Mia brought back so many memories to me and I think they told their story the way it should have been told. I wish all kids were required to read this book so if they were going thru this they might come forward or think about their actions.
ALEXXBABY More than 1 year ago
I have actually attended the school Spring Creek Lodge Academy in Thompson Falls, Montana. I read this book years ago when I was actually at the school. I stumbled across it looking for books to purchase for my nook and found it fascinating. Sometimes you forget about certain aspects of your life and than randomly stumble upon them. For anyone who has questions about whether this book is like all of the rest of the Memoirs out there, IT"S NOT! You should definitely purchase it whether you have had problems with addiction or not. Everyone in life knows someone who has addiction problems or experiences them yourself. It is a very good read. DEFINITELY BUY!!
Lil_PeanutLM More than 1 year ago
I first read this book on paperback form. My mother was the one who gave me the book and told me i should read it. As soon as i started the book, I could not put it down. I cried on certain parts and was truly amazed on what they went through. I finished this book in a few days and was blown away.This book went around our office for a month. Now that i have my nook, i bought it. You will honestly not be disappointed on this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I am a full time nurse with three kids and I couldn't put this book down! This book is completely engaging from the first page and I was incredibly sad when I finished it. I am not a person that will read a book a second time but this book is definitely one I would consider. My only regret is that I loaned it out and can't remember who has it! This book is absolutely what prompted me to begin reading again. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I hope there will be another book from this mother-daughter team.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She follows
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book to help parents know there are others out there facing the same battles, as well as showing there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strong Bio of two strong women. I could not put this down. Thanks to Claire and Mia for sharing their story.
GrayMagnolia More than 1 year ago
A mother-daughter journey through hell and back is as real as it gets. The writing style is informative and heart-breaking. It is a great read to understand drug-addiction from the addicted's point of view and also their families.
faith7ashley More than 1 year ago
This book was so deep. I read it in a few days....and i loved it. I really loved it.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
A mother and a daughter have teamed up to collaborate and bring us their true story about the depths to which someone can descend when under the influence of environment, drugs, alcohol, and less than stellar friendships. The climb back from the bottom to the top is fraught with pain and recidivism. Tough love was the order of the day for the family and the facility which aided in the healthy outcome for this young woman. The key to this story is that the process worked although the method and facility have both been criticized and excoriated. One such place was shut down after complaints by some disgruntled participants. It was an expensive, extreme kind of boot camp but it has had more success than any other facility I have ever heard or read about. I was privileged to hear the young girl speak about her experiences and witness her remarkable recovery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just got re-obsessed with reading, and i love to read memiors and stories about real life and triumph through hardships...but this book was really a disappointment...reading everyone else's reviews makes me feel like i'm missing something b/c i don't agree with most of them. I enjoyed reading Mia's portions of the book, but I found Claire's dialogue to be redundant and poorly expressed. Something about the manner in which she writes, i can't put my finger on it, didn't have a good flow for me. In every effort i made to stay interested, i failed. I suppose i might have been looking for more of a knock-down vividness of life in addiction and teen despair but as i literally read every other page to skim through to the end, i was left disappointed overall.
JessicaStalker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a gripping story of a daughter with a serious drug addiction and her mother's journey to end it. The writing is a bit repetitive at times but mostly its due to the nature of her relapses. Nevertheless, the story is just plain heartbreaking and the book is hard to put down.
cierramarinko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Comeback is a brilliant true story about a mother and her daughters journey though life, and how the mother fights to get her back to reality. Comeback is an amazing novel, the book will open your eyes to another life that almost everyone is oblivious to.
TFS93 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazing story of a mother and daughter who fought their way back to each other. It sickens me that a father could treat his daughter this way and get away with it, yet I know it happens everyday. This is something that needs to be fixed in our society. Mia and Claire are wonderful people and have come out on top of the situation. This one will make you think and probably make you want to hug your mother.
drea3132 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hell and back is right! This girl was nuts! Her mom, too! Sending her daughter oversea's to a rehab slash boarding school is not what normal parents do..but hey maybe they should. I never knew places like that exsisted. Quite frankly, it scared me. They should send some people from Hollywood to that school..oh, you can't, it got raided for complaint's of abuse and neglect.The story is real. That's what is so great about it. Mia's problems don't just go away with a cup of hot-chocolate. It was nice to see that even the whole family went to therapy and counseling. I was glad that there wasn't a fairy tale ending like most books...this book was mostly the hard part that other books lack. Pretty good read.
Mychiefthemama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Astounding... painful to read but remarkable nonetheless.
lalalibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I saw a lifetime movie that was sort of like this.
justablondemoment on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very slow in parts of the book. So much so that I almost put it down. I really never really felt all that connected to the characters. Other parts of the book had my full attention. So this one was just a okay book.
readaholic12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A must read - amazing true story of a mother's and daughter's love as they fight through teen drug addiction.
ChelsWhoElse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Come Back was extraordinarly moving! It will convince you to never feel sorry for yourself again. When a teenage girl ends up riding the waves of society's underbelly, her mother's love tries to bring her back to shore. I particularly reccomend this book for teenagers who think they have a hard life, for this will certainly change their outlook on life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eye opening and riveting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago