The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness
By: Ericka Andersen
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 6/26/2018
My Rating: 4 Stars
Sometimes Cloud 9 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
For Rick Sylvester, childhood in Cloud 9, a rundown trailer park in a shabby southwestern town, meant enduring his mother’s drunken fits and drug-induced stupors. Abandoned by his father at age two, his mom's endless stream of boyfriends taught him the art of shoplifting and drug runs and the harsh reality of senseless violence. She introduced Rick to crystal meth and—when she remembered her children’s existence—fed Rick and his little sister SpaghettiOs and stale, dry cereal. Rick finally escaped when he turned eighteen and joined the army—only to discover his past dragging behind him wherever he went.
Rick battled depression, anxiety, and PTSD as the chaos, neglect, and unpredictability of his childhood seemed to doom him to follow in his mother's footsteps. Well into adulthood, Rick stumbled through unemployment and divorce, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain until he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Leaving Cloud 9 is not, however, simply the tale of Rick’s suffering and grief; it’s the story of his redemption and restoration. Vividly realized, profoundly honest yet deeply compassionate, this unforgettable debut shines a light on how God protected a boy who didn’t even know to pray, revealing how grace reaches into the most desperate circumstances.
Written by Rick’s wife, Ericka, this powerful shared memoir provides an insider’s view of an often-forgotten population and on the issues affecting the millions of Americans who are growing up poor and feeling hopeless. An indelibly American story, Leaving Cloud 9 shows that no matter how dark the circumstances, no one is beyond hope.
Buy the Book
A special thank you to Thomas Nelson and #Netgalley for an advanced reading copy. Also purchased the audiobook. Review to follow.
“…an uplifting story of perseverance.”
“A story of redemption that is a tonic for troubled hearts and a beacon in troubled times."
—David French, National Review
“A book of grace and gravity, of hurt unfolding into hope.”
—Russell Moore, president, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
“Leaving Cloud 9 will make you rethink your relationships and reexamine yourself. You will come out on the other end with greater wisdom, health, and faith than you had before.”
—Michael Wear, author of Reclaiming Hope
“Full of hard-learned but much-needed stories and lessons about handling adversity, perseverance through difficult times, and the complicated, contradictory nature of hearts and minds.”
—Jim Geraghty, National Review
“A book you won’t want to put down. . . . In a confusing world in search of good news, Ericka Andersen gives us hope with a book about family, religion, and love.”
—Robert Bluey, The Heritage Foundation
“A thoroughly honest, wince-inducing, love-instigated account, unvarnished, of how the sorrows relentlessly inflicted on a boy, then carried into manhood, can give way.”
—Jack Fowler, National Review
About the Author
Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer who also serves as the Digital Marketing Director at the Independent Women’s Forum and as a consultant for The Steamboat Institute. She previously wrote for, and was the Digital Director at, National Review magazine. Prior to that, she was the Digital Manager at the Heritage Foundation and worked in communications for Vice President Mike Pence at the GOP Conference. She attended Indiana University. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and son. Read More