When Ties Break/A Memoir About How to Thrive After Loss

Margaret Norton

Book Cover



    Core Theme



    20th Century (multiple decades)











    Divorce, abuse, abortion, excommunication, homelessness, bankruptcy, sibling rivalry, adultery, low self-esteem,death and depression. What makes this story different, exceptional, and inspirational is that the author has lived through each of these challenging, sometimes terrifying problems.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Female Leaning,Universal


    USA, mostly in the South

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Tate Publishing

    Year Published: 2010

    Starting Description

    The day of my father's funeral, my brother expelled me from the family as my other family members stood by and did nothing. He was right about one thing. I had made many bad choices for which I would pay dearly.

    Ending Description

    I learned to let go, to stop asking God why bad things happened to good people, to be grateful, to not just survive but to thrive. If I held on too tightly to what I'd lost, I'd lose the opportunity to make better choices. I let go of those who rejected me and embraced those who loved me as I was.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending,Philosophical Questions

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth

    Main Character Details

    Name: Margaret

    Age: Birth to age 55

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Desperate,Faithful,Educated,Honorable,Insecure,Naive,Underdog,Modest,Obedient,Religious,Selfless,Strong Moral Code,Adventurous

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Family members, husbands, friends, etc

    Age: birth to death

    Gender: Other

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Complex,Crazy,Greedy,Masculine,Narcisstic,Religious,Power Hungry,Outspoken,Sarcastic,Secretive,Manipulative,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: See previous question

    Age: See previous question

    Gender: Other

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Complex,Crazy,Criminal,Desperate,Greedy,Insecure,Leader,Masculine,Narcisstic,Religious,Blunt,Power Hungry,Outspoken,Skillful,Sarcastic,Secretive,Manipulative,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    As a child I was painfully shy, had a speech problem and felt that I was different from everyone else. My father was a minister and my stay at home mom struggled with mental illness. I married young, to get away from home, only to find myself in an abusive relationship. Nine years later we divorced & I enrolled in college. I think this pattern repeated throughout my life – not doing things like everyone else, either arriving early or late but never feeling like I got it right. Searching for something but not sure what. Always apologizing. In college, I met my second husband, one of my professors. He had children from his previous marriage & we did not blend well as a family. One day he just moved out. My first husband took my innocence. My second one took what little self confidence I had and bankrupted us financially. Shortly after I lost a sister to cancer, followed by the death of my father. After his burial, my brother expelled me from family. It was like I too had died - the pain was unbearable. I spent the next 15 years asking God why this happened in such a religious family, making more bad choices, getting another divorce that really broke my already damaged heart - until I finally learned to stop looking back and to accept myself as I was. Along the way I discovered many other hurting people and tried to use my story to help others.Currently I'm working as a substance abuse counselor with a homeless organization.


    The youngest child of a preacher, Margaret grew up with the glory of God always at her side. After becoming a mother, surviving domestic abuse and several unsuccessful marriages, she realizes that her family and God are her greatest sources of strength. She suffers insecurity, bankruptcy and loss, but her faith in the almighty never wavers, and she attributes her success to her strong sense of belief.

    What We Liked

    - The story has a strong sense of faith in the unknown. Margaret’s life is hard and full of misfortune, but she never wavers in her belief that God will look after her. There is a lot to be said about a character who is willing to make such sacrifices for herself and her children. This is a story of strength and growth as Margaret overcomes obstacles time and time again just to find her happiness.
    - For television this would make a strong addition to a Lifetime Original or some other spotlight series. With its strong sense of faith and unending will to move on, Margaret has a copious list of failures and obstacles that could play out. The background characters certainly need some more dimensions as they are a bit flat from her first person POV. That being said, the story has a happy ending with plenty of moral lessons baked within.
    - Key points: Religion, tragedy, loss, strength, happy resolution.


    The story opens with Margaret at her father’s funeral where her older brother excommunicates her from the family and forbids her from coming home to see her mother or sister. Margaret then begins the tale of her life as the youngest of four in a staunch Christian family. She grows up different than her siblings and often resented for the favoritism she received as the youngest child. She spent her childhood traveling around the east coast, mostly in the Carolina’s, until she left her family to get married at eighteen.

    Her first husband was emotionally and physically abusive, but after having two kids and not enough money, she found it difficult to leave. She accumulated strength until her husband left and a few years after her divorce. Her favorite sister Pam died of cancer and she decides to go to college in North Carolina where she started dating her professor.

    A man nearly thirty years her senior, their lives quickly became incompatible and she gets straddled with the debt of his bad investments and their house which she can no longer afford. Her and her two kids get split up so they can avoid homelessness. Her son has strong ties to the church, but her daughter strays and begins a life of substance abuse and poor performance at school.

    A few years of hard work go by. Her faith is still very strong as she tries to help her daughter get clean several times, and eventually moves to St. Louis to be with a man she met while traveling for work. He has a daughter and when they get married, Margaret accepts the daughter into her life as best she can.

    Things are alright for a year or two, but she finds herself struggling to make things work as she has to work remotely in Washington DC. After about five years of marriage, her brother has a sudden heart attack and her mother is quite ill. She travels back to North Carolina to see her mother, but not after her brother dies unexpectedly and their fighting is never resolved.

    Margaret goes on without her third husband for some time, writing about her life and trying to stay close to her faith. She finds the opportunity to travel after getting a job in California, and after some time is able to shed the death that has plagued her life. Eventually she divorces her third husband and makes peace with her past as she spends time with her aging mother and four grandchildren.

    About The Author

    Margaret Norton is an author, blogger and life coach. She has published “When Ties Break” as her first novel.