Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Stay Close

Stay Close

A Mother's Story of Her Son's Addiction

Libby Cataldi

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

Libby Cataldi was the head of a private school and prided herself on being attuned to the problems her students endured. So how was it that she missed her own son Jeff's descent into addiction, even as he escalated to more and more dangerous drugs? How did Jeff, a loving brother and son, and a star athlete, start using in the first place? And how could Libby help him without risking the rest of her family?

"Stagli vicino", an Italian recovering addict told the author. "Stay close—never leave him, even when he is most unlovable." This is not a book about how to save a child. It is a book about what it means to stay close to a loved one gripped by addiction. It is about one son who came home and one mother who never gave up hope.

Stay Close is one mother's tough, honest, and intimate tale that chronicles her son's severe drug addiction, as it corroded all relationships from the inside out. It is a story of deep trauma and deep despair, but also of deep hope—and healing.

He told her, "Mom, never quit believing." And she didn't.


Chapter One

The Boy in the Cape and Cowboy Boots

November 24, 2005, 12:30 A.M. Jeff is twenty-seven years old.

So how do I feel? Like a failure of a mother. Everyone in the field of...


Praise for Stay Close

“Searingly honest and moving...[Cataldi] has broken the taboos about being the parent of an addict.” —New York Daily News

“Cataldi's writing lays her emotions bare...she doesn't pull any punches, never shying away from the hard questions or the tough times.” —The Capital (Annapolis, Maryland)

“For every drug addict there are at least four people affected, a depressing assertion by some experts that is clearly borne out in this soft-spoken, utterly honest account.” —Publishers Weekly

“A spell-binding and anguished story...of a mother's deep love.” — (Eternal Word Television Network)

“Mental health professionals and parents of addicts could benefit enormously from reading this heartrending story of a mother's struggle with her son's drug addiction. When Cataldi's hitherto healthy, straight-A student teenage son consorts with bad company and begins using alcohol and marijuana, the author misses the telltale signs. Before too long, he adds cocaine, heroin, and meth. Too late, Cataldi struggles to understand what went wrong as she endeavors to rescue him. Her narration and her son's, interspersed at key points, poignantly depict the story of addiction and recovery. While addiction memoirs proliferate, few wield the power of this one.” —Library Journal

“As Virgil toured Dante through hell, so Libby Cataldi can hold your hand through a parent's ultimate nightmare. A gripping story of a bad time for a good person, and how she conquered it.” —Tom Clancy

“Addiction poisons the whole family. It's the secret we keep from one another and we keep from ourselves. It is only when, like Libby Cataldi, we are willing to share our stories and shine a light into those dark corners that we can begin to recover.” —Martha Tod Dudman, author of Augusta, Gone

“This is a mother's exceptionally touching, beautifully written story of pain, and ultimately hope. Cataldi writes a deeply honest, moving chronicle of how the natural, normal love of a family can lock everyone into a negative spiral of horrific loss of control. This mom bares the truth, which is full of confusion and baffling paradox.In a superb afterword, Patrick MacAfee explains how addicted families work and what a mysterious, counter-intuitive process it is to find your way to the freedom of recovery. The memoir, followed by the voice of the professional, offers a powerful guide to those lost in the midst of their own family addiction."--Stephanie Brown, Ph.D., Director of The Addictions Institute"Stay Close is the poignant and powerful story of one family's struggle to contend with the ravages of addiction in a beloved son and brother. With enormous courage and honesty, Libby Cataldi lays bare the searing family pain as her son descends into a world they cannot fully understand; her fierce efforts to bring him back to health and sanity; and, ultimately, the redemptive power of love, compassion, and a mother's willingness to stay close to her son even during the most harrowing of times.” —Ron Goldblatt, Executive Director, Association of Independent Maryland Schools

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Libby Cataldi

LIBBY CATALDI holds a doctorate in education and has been an educator all her life, most recently as head of Maryland's Calverton School. She has two sons, Jeff and Jeremy Bratton, and divides her time between Annapolis, Maryland and Florence, Italy.

Libby Cataldi

© Ray Haas

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Griffin

Latest on Facebook