The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria VanderbiltThe Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss

My most favorite thing about this book is that it doesn’t read like a “tell-all” or even a memoir—I guess that’s because it’s not. It’s a conversation between a son and his mother. And what a conversation!

I have to confess, I had no idea that the Vanderbilt’s were, for all intents and purposes, American royalty. I had only ever heard of Gloria Vanderbilt, and that was because of her clothing line.

To say that I related to Gloria’s story is a Mt. Everest-sized understatement. Aside from her incredible wealth and celebrity status, she and I made a lot of the same impulsive choices in life (they never ended well), and surprisingly for much of the same reasons. There were so many passages with which I connected that I practically underlined the entire book.

Lines like: “The only reflection I saw of myself was a blob of nothing staring back at me in the mirror.” “There were no role models in my life whom I could confide in.”

The content of this magnificent book is a series of emails exchanged between Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt over the period of a year, in which he asks his mother questions regarding her childhood. Her answers are incredibly detailed, not to mention fascinating. My heart broke for the “Poor Little Rich Girl” as she recounted the events of the custody battle she had to endure at the age of 10.

I’m enthralled with Gloria’s moxie, her optimism, and even at her advanced age she is still convinced that the best is yet to come. Shouldn’t we all live life this way? Not thinking our best days are behind us, but are just up ahead, perhaps right around the corner?

While I do have limits, I’ve always taken the same approach as Gloria Vanderbilt with my older sons—and will do the same with my daughter when she’s older—and have shared as much with them as I honestly can. It’s important, I think, for them to know that I was not born an adult, that I’ve made mistakes, and have experienced the same heartache, the same worries as they have. These are the things that deepen our connection.

I hope this book inspires parents to have more conversations like these with their children, and vise-versa. It’s a beautiful testament to the importance of leaving nothing left unsaid.


Cathleen is a writer and novelist deeply rooted in the south. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and two senior furbabies. Her list of favorite authors is eclectic: Kate Morton, Ian McEwan, John Green, Neil Gaiman, Wiley Cash, Fannie Flagg, and Phillipa Gregory. A few of her all-time favorite reads are: AtonementThe Forgotten Garden, Looking for Alaska, The Book Thief, The Glass Castle, Gone With the Wind. To find more about Cathy, visit her at her website, and on Twitter @CathleenHolst.


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