While most kids are served home-cooked dinners and tucked in with bedtime stories at night, Mary Zoe never knows which version of her mother, Zodie, to expect. She might be dressed to the nines, rhapsodizing about a more luxurious way of life; or she might be strewn naked on the floor, slumped into unconsciousness by drugs and alcohol.
But either way, Mary Zoe has known from an early age that she wants a better life: freedom from the squalor, the forever-empty cupboards, and the endless parade of abusive men, tranquilizers, and booze. And when Mary Zoe’s older sister, Sissy, leaves the household, Zodie’s behavior spins even further out of control.
Coming to the painful realization that staying with her mother would mean danger, Mary Zoe crafts a plan to escape the household and leave the mother—who she loves, but who has hurt her so deeply—behind. Set in the 1960s, few people intervene to help Mary Zoe, so she learns to seek help on her own. When she is taken into foster care by a loving, stable family, she thinks her problems have finally been solved. Instead, she finds herself caught in a nightmarish court system that leaves her torn between the family she knows will love and protect her, and the damaged mother she loves but knows is certain danger.
A thrilling true story of courage and survival, Driving in the Dark, A Childhood Memoir, documents the harrowing abuse and neglect that filled Zoe Niklas’s childhood, as well as her path to overcoming these devastating events.