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You're six. Life is good. Then one night your mother dies. 



Unfortunately for Lauren and her brother, their father hires a nanny with a big problem. Crazy and violent, she swings between spoiling them and beating them senseless. Or worse.

Isolated in suburbia, Lauren spend seven years in a scary world where rules can change anytime, violence may flare in an instant or erupt after days of angry rumbling, and the truth is whatever an angry glance says it is. The rest of the world isn't doing much better: the president's shot, the Civil Rights movement shakes the country. As students start protesting the war in Vietnam, Lauren, now a teenager, escapes at last to an idyllic boarding school in Vermont. And that’s when the trouble starts…

A riveting first-person account of growing up alone and strange, Riding the Cyclone careens like the eponymous Coney Island roller coaster from sardonic wisecracks to gut-wrenching brutality as it tells the story of a young girl’s struggle to grow up in a storm.

"A skillful writer, Wiener artfully weaves the raw emotion of her childhood suffering with the cultural experience of the United States during the 1960s and ’70s. The music and political events of the time create a strong backdrop framing Wiener’s memories and feelings without overpowering the private nature of her story.

Intimate and absorbing, Wiener’s tale successfully captures the feelings of a spirited yet lost young child growing up in a tumultuous period in American history.” —
Kirkus Reviews

"…one of those books you read with growing fascination….a spell-binding story." —
Gift From Within

Sample scenes

Heartwarming video of family dysfunction

 What readers are saying...
 
Not for the faint of heart, but once started, you won't put it down.

— GM, Philadelphia, PA

… nearly impossible to put down. Wiener's insights into herself, and her evocation of the wild, difficult culture of those years are riveting for their intelligence, humor and style. — LW, New York, NY
Her story is unique. I can guarantee you have not heard this one before.

— JLF, Grantham, NH


What a page-turner! An amazing journey through a world very alien to me. — KB, Portland, OR
...stayed up until 3 am reading it cover to cover. The writing is wonderful, so engaging.

— MB, Washington, DC

I hated to see this book end but it's stayed with me, now for months. A great story but even greater writing.

— CB, Beaverton, OR

I started reading it after dinner, completing the first 285 pages by dawn…. If I still drank coffee or tea, I would have completed the book in one session. — LB, Portland, OR

Disturbing, moving, and humorous, it throws one through life's cyclone.

— PG, San Francisco, CA


… sparsely written but clear in its ability to plumb adolescent emotions and desires.

— CC, Sweet Briar, VA

In a genre that could easily lend itself to maudlin self-pity, there is none. ... The people are drawn with such honesty I wondered how she could bear to write it. … The scenes are carefully crafted … I couldn’t put it down. — CN, Fairport Harbor, OH

… the roller coaster analogy is an apt one.

— MW, Portland, OR

I finished it in two days. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. This is not your average memoir.

— SM, Portland, OR

soooooo good — CZ, Portland, OR

GREAT. Had trouble putting it done. — NB, Portland, OR
[The writing] reflects a self-assurance all the more compelling as you realize what it cost to achieve.

— PW, Ann Arbor, MI

I encourage anyone who has had to struggle in their young life to read this book for inspiration, and find the inner strength to change our lives….

— CG, Portland, OR

Thank you for your great book. My heart ached while reading, but I have to finish

— YK, Loveland, OH

…that uber-honesty that gives the book its power.

— SH, Hudson River Valley, NY

I devoured it in 3 days. Thank you for sharing your story.

— AW, Tigard, OR

Just closed your book in tears again. It's late and I need to sleep.

— JF, Dartmouth, NH

What a story. Thank you for your so open and painful and honest and yet beautiful memories of growing up.

— EV, Valley Cottage, NY

an incredibly powerful book — my cousin Jill

terribly depressing — my Aunt "Alma"
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