About Me


I'm a writer who explores and challenges the conventional wisdom on subjects that broadly touch people's lives. Over decades of work as both a journalist and book author, I have examined how accepted practices in one era had unexpected and often devastating consequences in the years that followed.

My most recent book, "Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink -- And How They Can Regain Control," was a New York Times bestseller. It looked at why women's consumption of alcohol has risen so sharply, how the 80-year-old faith-and-abstinence based program of Alcoholics Anonymous can be harmful to women, and which evidence-based treatments can help those who drink too much. I expanded my reporting on that subject for a piece in The Atlantic Monthly called “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous,” which questioned the U.S.'s over-reliance on AA even as dozens of other treatments have proven to be more effective The book, and the magazine piece, touched a chord among hundreds of thousands of people for whom 12-step treatment had failed, and the story generated among the most comments in the Atlantic's history. 

I believe that sweeping historical trends must be explored through the stories of the lives of the people who are most deeply affected by them, and I'm now at work on a book about the secret history adoption in the U.S. in the mid-20th century. I began exploring new ways of family making as a staff writer at the Oregonian in the aughts, and one of the stories I wrote there led me to my current project.

My work on mental health, medicine, and culture has appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe New York TimesThe Daily BeastThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesSELF, and many other publications.  (I also covered the Olympics in Rio, one of my favorite cities.)  My Atlantic story is included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology, 2016 edition, and won the American Psychoanalytic Society's top journalism award in 2016. I've been a guest on many national radio and television programs, including "Fresh Air," "All Things Considered," "On the Media," "The Brian Lehrer Show," "48 Hours," "NBC Nightly News," and "ABC World News". 

I studied at Stanford University, where I received both my bachelor's and master's degrees in history. I grew up in Oregon, but now live in New Jersey with my husband and the youngest of my three wise daughters.