A single instant can change your whole life. Mine changed late Friday night, April 1, 1960, when my mother, reading in bed, slumped over, dead at 42 of a cerebral aneurysm.

I was six, my brother Carl was ten. The bizarre amalgam of abuse, neglect, and unsupervised international travel that followed was a wild ride through the already-plenty-wild sixties.

Isolated in suburbia, my brother and I spent seven years in a terrifying world in which rules changed at random, violence flared in an instant or after days of threats, and an angry glance could remake the truth. The rest of the world was struggling, too: Kennedy was shot, the Civil Rights movement shook the country, and students protested the war in Vietnam. Then I got shipped off to an artsy left-wing boarding school and things really went nuts…

A riveting first-person account of growing up alone and strange, Riding the Cyclone careens like the eponymous roller coaster from sardonic wisecracks to gut-wrenching brutality as it tells the story of a child'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

Bonus video: Dad wants the maid