‘If You Love Me’ deserves a spot on your bookshelf

First tooth, first step.

Every milestone your baby passed was reason for celebration. First day of school, first home run, you were there, cheerleading. First crush, first job. Big hopes, even if, as in the new book “If You Love Me” by Maureen Cavanagh, your baby doesn’t want them.

Maureen Cavanagh isn’t the violent sort.

A mother, sweetheart, and manager of a nonprofit company, Cavanagh is not the kind of person to kill, but that’s exactly what she was on her way to do last winter.

It all started three years ago, when Cavanagh noticed that jewelry was missing from her home, gone from a secret location about which just one other person knew. She quickly confronted her daughter, Katie, who tearfully admitted that she’d stolen the jewelry to buy drugs.

It wasn’t the first time Katie had troubles – but this was definitely the worst. When she was a teenager, she dealt with anorexia and depression. Later, she left college because of alcohol and drugs. Once again, Cavanagh was beside herself.

Leaping into action, she and her ex-husband, Mike, worked to get Katie into detox but Katie bolted – just as she would 38 other times. There would be days, weeks, when she would be sober, seemingly happy, and safe in an expensive hospital, and then she’d suddenly relapse. Glimpses of the old Katie would surface and disappear behind a haze of substance abuse; Cavanagh learned to tell when Katie was high and when it was time to back off from talking about it.

Most of all, though, Cavanagh learned to get the help she needed, in addition to what she needed for Katie. Finding strength in knowing that she isn’t alone then spurred her to make changes in her own life, and to create the perfect job: today, Cavanagh helps substance-abusing young adults find the intervention they need, and she guides their worried, terrified parents through the storm.

Needless to say, author Maureen Cavanagh didn’t murder anyone, but a disturbing end to that part of the story is inside “If You Love Me.”

There’s more, too, of course, and it’s harrowing – especially when you note that nearly the entirety of Cavanagh’s tale – from discovery to a leave-us-hanging resolution – takes place in a short three-year period. That can result in a story-pace that may leave a reader wrung out although, because it’s a lot of in-and-out-of-rehab rehashing, it can also seem repetitive.

Kindred spirits, however, will fully appreciate Cavanagh’s stellar job in reassuring parents via her narrative that there is no shame in reaching out for help or support. She advocates Facebook pages for venting, also offering subtle, in-story advice and rueful observations that make this book valuable for (grand)parent, friend, and politician.

This book deserves its spot on a growing list of books on addiction, just as it deserves to be on your bookshelf if you have a loved one with substance abuse problems.

In that case, and if you need the comfort, you may want to reach for “If You Love Me” first.

More in Life

Call to artists

City offers opportunities for creativity; program deadlines approaching

Kids SummerStage

Children’s concert series returns to Les Gove Park

COURTESY PHOTO, Museum of Flight
Man and the moon

Programs this week honor Apollo program and the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing

Choose your favorite sculpture; People’s Choice Award up for grabs

Auburn’s Downtown Sculpture Gallery program, now in its sixth year, exhibits sculptures… Continue reading

Auburn community calendar | July 5

Events, benefits and entertainment listings

COURTESY PHOTO, city of Auburn
Auburn Community Jr. Players present ‘Mary Poppins Jr.’

Musical premieres Friday, July 12 at the Auburn Ave Theater

Rock the Lot: Poly Fest returns to Auburn on Saturday

Rock the Lot: Poly Fest comes to The Outlet Collection in Auburn… Continue reading

Auburn Symphony kicks off Summer Series

The Auburn Symphony’s Summer Series begins Thursday, June 27 with From the… Continue reading

Most common reasons for clinic visits during the summer

Take precautions as hot weather returns

‘HONK!’ for a happy ending

Heavier Than Air Family Theatre Company presents musical

Auburn community calendar | June 20

Events, benefits and entertainment listings

ADA serves up Auburn Beer & Wine Festival on June 15

The Auburn Downtown Association hosts its second annual Auburn Beer & Wine… Continue reading