"Leaving Cloud 9 is a labor of love.
A lot of us might instinctively want to turn away from stories like Rick's -- heartbreaking twists of fate that bring a child into an environment of poverty, mental illness, addiction, and neglect. But this is a story of the triumph of the human spirit through some of the darkest and most hopeless-seeming moments imaginable. This book is 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. Anyone who needs a spiritual lift or a reminder of how people are capable of extraordinary changes for the better should read this book."
-- Jim Geraghty, National Review
"The first time I discovered Ericka Andersen’s writing, I thought 'what a breath of fresh air!' As I came to learn, it’s more than just that—Ericka is a breath of fresh air. This touching book, clearly a work of love, will connect with readers right where they are in their own lives. Leaving Cloud 9 will help you rethink your relationships and re-examine yourself. You will come out on the other end with greater wisdom, health and faith than you had before. I am excited for more people to get to know my friend Ericka through her work."
-Michael Wear, Author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America
"My eyes and heart have been opened! Leaving Cloud 9 is a masterful blend of Rick’s story with insight into a world that thankfully most of us don’t know, an education of the hard facts about the effects of neglect and abuse, and the miraculous healing of God’s unconditional love. Ericka’s book should be mandatory reading for those who professionally affect the lives of children in need or adults who were those children."
-- Peggy Welch, former Indiana State Representative
"Ericka Andersen tells her family’s story in their book, and she might be telling yours too. For anyone who has compared a broken life to a perfect ideal, this book will help tear down old patterns of thinking and build up new ones. This is 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 is a gripping story about life’s challenges and overcoming the odds. It’s a book you won’t want to put down—with vivid details about the struggles of a troubled boy who became a caring and loving husband and father. 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 powerful, heartbreaking, and redemptive account of a boy who endured a childhood of poverty and abuse in an American Southwest trailer park named Cloud 9.
Abandoned by his father at age two, Rick Sylvester lived with an abusive mother whose struggles as a member of the working poor led her to drugs, alcohol, theft, and prostitution--and eventually attempted suicide. 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. Miraculously, though, he overcame the odds and today is a happy husband and father. How did this happen? Rick's answer is this: "It was the Lord."
A message of hope to those who are drowning from an undeserved childhood, Leaving Cloud 9 speaks to millions who grew up poor, feeling ignored and hopeless, and who need the healing power of God. This indelibly American story conveys the steadfast love of Jesus and his power to deliver us from the most devastating of pasts.
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.