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Leaving Cloud 9: One Man’s Journey of Redemption and the Opioid Crisis (Interview with Ericka Andersen)

Similar to J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, author Ericka Andersen takes us on a personal journey of a forgotten America, the opioid crisis, and her husband’s tormented past, military trauma, and inspirational recovery.  Her new book is titled, Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Ressurrected From the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness.



  • 2:30 Discover why this story is so deeply personal for Ericka Andersen, and how Leaving Cloud 9 reaches out to give hope to those suffering from depression and mental illness – from someone who truly has experienced rock bottom.
  • 3:50 Hear about the horrific past from which Rick Andersen is now recovering. Ericka tells us how her husband suffered the “gamut of childhood trauma,” including being left alone for entire nights when only four or five years old.
  • 8:05 Hear how Ericka worked with her husband to learn his full story and write this book, including their “interviews” during dinner dates and car rides!
  • 11:20 Leaving Cloud 9 is a story of redemption, but not just from physical illness and poverty. Ericka tells us the change of “heart and soul” that God worked in Rick. Though he had no earthly father, God became his father and helped him to forgive even his mother.
  • 14:50 Ericka’s advice to those suffering from traumatic upbringings and mental illnesses is to investigate their faith, in whatever religion that may be, to find community and hope outside themselves.

OUR GUEST AUTHOR – Ericka Andersen

  • Ericka Andersen 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 when he led the GOP House Conference.
  • She attended Indiana University, and now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and son.

BOOK OVERVIEW – Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness

  • Leaving Cloud 9 is 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. 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: “It was the Lord.”
  • A message of hope to those who are drowning from an undeserved childhood, Leaving Cloud 9 by Ericka Andersen 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.




David French says:

It’s a story of redemption that is a tonic for troubled hearts and a beacon in troubled times.


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