EXCERPT: 'The Kids Are All Right'

The Kids Are All Right

Amanda, Liz, Dan and Diana Welch grew up in the wealthy community of Bedford, N.Y., born to glamorous, successful parents. Then, a series of devastating losses upended their lives as kids: In 1983, their oil executive father was killed in a car accident, leaving a large debt behind, and their mother died of cancer 3½ years later.

In "The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir," each describes, with humility, candor and humor, what happened next. Dan became a hellion, and was eventually kicked out of boarding school. Amanda got into drugs and dropped out of New York University. A neighbor reconsidered adopting Diana after she reached her teens. Meanwhile, Liz traveled to free herself of all of it.

VIDEO: Four children were forced to live with different guardians after their parents death.
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CLICK HERE for the authors' Web site, and read an excerpt of the book below. Then, head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.

a note on the text

This book is a true story. Or rather it is several true stories. Really, it is a collection of memories, and in the process of writing them down, and comparing them, we have learned that memory is a tricky thing. It's like returning to the house in which you lived as a child. The staircase you remembered as that monumental thing you crawled up slowly on your hands and knees is now something you can run up, hands free, two steps at a time. Well, you weren't wrong then, and you aren't wrong now. Perception may have changed, but the facts remain. Those stairs were big. Now they're small. Go figure. In the following pages, you'll see that we disagree about certain things, as most siblings do. Over the last few years of writing, researching, and interviewing lots of people, we have learned that truth is subjective, always. That goes for every character in the book. Our interpretations of other people's actions are locked in a time and a place. An eight- year- old who has lost her parents sees the world in a much different way than that same girl twenty- five years later. The same is true for a sixteen- or twenty- year- old- girl and for a fourteen- year- old boy. Some people in these pages insisted on using their real names, but other names have been changed, along with identifying characteristics, to protect people's privacy. Other than that, we have each told the truth, and each truth is our own.

Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe? Oh, it has to be for your to grow, boy. -"Take the Long Way Home," SUPERTRAMP

introduction Our mother died three times. We have the first death on tape, recorded the day it aired in 1976: Morgan Fairchild, wearing a trench coat and pale pink lip- gloss, shot her in the back. Over the past thirty years, we've each watched the tape several times, pulling it from dusty cardboard moving boxes and crossing our fingers it doesn't get eaten by the VCR. It's our only copy.

The scene opens with Morgan, as Jennifer Pace, hiding in a darkened hallway. Our mother, playing Eunice Wyatt on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow, is kissing actor Val Dufour good- bye at their apartment door. His square jaw and dimpled chin are powdered an orangey tan. As John Wyatt, Eunice's cheating husband, Val is dressed conservatively in a suit and tie, but we know him as the guy who once wore a kilt and a feather boa to our parents' annual Christmas party.

The music swells. Commercial break.

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