“It is its own religion, this love. Uncontainable, savage, and without end, it is what I feel for my child.” These opening lines of Claire Fontaine’s powerful memoir, sucked me right in. I know that love. Recognized it. It is what many of us feel for our children. She introduces us to her daughter Mia as a young child: perceptive, bright, loving and we’ve already fallen in love with both mother and daughter when a few inches down the page fifteen-year-old Mia disappears. From there the book takes off at a frenetic pace, hurtling through the initial panic. She has written a note telling her parents not to worry, “I have a knife and mace.” Claire’s precious daughter has taken off with a new friend. She loves her parents but needs to find herself, connect with “real people” who will take care of her.
While runaways often flee abusive homes, Mia has known little but unconditional love. There’s past history here however. Emotional and psychological scarring. Claire’s first husband, Mia’s father, emerges as a drug abusing, violent pedophile who abuses his own tiny child. Though Claire divorces him and eventually remarries a good man who loves Mia, the damage runs deep. She is bright, beautiful, and loving in turn. Yet, she has fled this home with her strange new friend who knows the kind of people Mia thinks she needs. Finding Mia is not the end of this story, but the beginning. Mia escapes every attempt to treat and heal her and each time she descends into an ever bleaker darkness. Driven to desperate measures, Mia’s parents have the financial wherewithal to get her into expensive treatment programs, one in the Czech Republic, and another in Montana, where Mia manages to turn her life around. Aptly titled: Come Back! both Claire and Mia tell their stories and thus weave an insightful tale of love, loss and recovery.