A Wild Ride Up The Cupboards

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Rachel is a young mother with a handsome husband and a life she adores when suddenly her older son, Edward, withdraws from the world. By the age of four, he is mute and sleepless, stony and distant from everyone who loves him. But Rachel is determined to reach him by any means and bring him back home. A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards is a story about the extraordinary things a mother will do in order to help her child. It poses questions about what interventions and sacrifices are right—and which ones go too far.

This novel also explores the role of faith in parenting, and in love. Braided through the story of Rachel and Jack's family is a parallel one about the events in her grandparents' lives: the early loss of their first-born child and subsequent withdrawal of Mickey, their only remaining son, whose mysterious death tested but did not destroy their union or their belief in God. While she looks for a way to heal her son, Rachel also searches for the truth about Mickey's life, trying desperately to save her son and her marriage.


“This is a phenomenal first novel, a story of mother love and ferocity and doggedness, told with delicacy and humor. A writer waits years for a book so true as this, so knowing, so sure-footed. Any parent of an odd and troubled kid will know the shape of the terrain from the first page to the end.” —Garrison Keillor
"In resonant, clear-eyed prose, Ann Bauer’s A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards expertly maps the ferocity and anguish of a parent's love for a child. . .by no means a fairy tale, Cupboards is a sharply drawn wonder." —Entertainment Weekly
"Many people grow up in this novel and not all of them arrive, panting but victorious, at the crest of the hill. A happy ending would be absurd here, and Bauer wisely stays clear of easy conclusions: valuable lessons learned, love triumphant, differences reconciled. Nonetheless, she steers this family through dreadfully difficult waters with a sense of the possibility of those things, and in the end those possibilities make A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards more than just an account of the end of innocence. It is also a story about how wisdom is acquired, one giant step at a time." —Washington Post
"This is a portrait of parenthood and womanhood filled with honesty and poignancy, thankfully devoid of any overwrought sentimentality. It is the story of a person trying to hold on to the myth of the happy American family, finding that sometimes more than love is necessary to make things right and that there is darkness and sorrow on some branches of every family tree." —Bookreporter.com
"I wanted more of Rachel and her family, whom Bauer portrays with supple insight and affection. Jack and Edward are wonderfully complex people; Rachel, with her ferocious love for her brood, and her unflinching emotional honesty, is a true heroine. This isn't a heartwarming, inspirational novel. Much better than that, it's a beautifully rendered, true one." —Star Tribune
"Without easy or pat explanations, Bauer's world is rich in the often wrong-headed but always well-meaning choices her characters, like real people, make daily. An impressive debut." —Kirkus
"In her sensitive debut, certain aspects of which were inspired by her own life, Bauer describes what happens to an apparently normal family when one of its members becomes inexplicably ill.. . the stress proving too great for this family in peril, portrayed by Bauer with unflinching honesty." —Booklist
"In her gripping first novel, essayist and journalist Bauer recounts the story of Rachel and Jack's marriage and the lives of their three children. . .Rachel is a powerful, well-drawn character, and the book is hard to put down. Recommended for public libraries." —Library Journal
"Bauer's nuanced debut chronicles a mother's struggle with her child's mysterious, undiagnosed illness and the once-passionate marriage that doesn't survive the decades of extraordinary stress. . . .[her] prose often pierces with authentic, unsentimental power." —Publishers Weekly
"Most simply, Wild Ride is about a mother who struggles to raise a child with a confounding, nameless disability that keeps him curtained off from his loved ones. But it's also about a troubled, disarmingly true marriage, a loving family that can't name even its long-dead ghosts, a friendship that falters after decades of fealty. Ultimately, it's about a driven, talented, flawed woman, who, in the process of loving her baffling child, becomes a better person." —City Pages
"Ann Bauer's first novel, A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards, traces the heartbreaking effects of a young boy's mysterious condition upon his family. . .the irony is that the villains of the novel seem to be those who are supposed to help." —Chicago Tribune