Congresswoman & Her Son Open Up in Memoir About His 'Brutal Battle' with Addiction

"Writing a book like this — told from our dueling perspectives — was difficult and yet ultimately rewarding," Madeleine Dean and her son Harry say

Madeleine Dean, Harry Cunnan
From left: Pennsylvania Rep. Madeleine Dean and her son Harry Cunnane. Photo: Allie Wynands Tyler Boye Photography

Madeleine Dean was just about to run for state office in 2012 when she learned that her son Harry Cunnane was stealing from the family to support his drug addiction.

Now the Pennsylvania congresswoman and Harry are releasing a joint memoir early next year, Under Our Roof: A Son's Battle for Recovery, a Mother's Battle for Her Son, about his 10-year journey toward sobriety — one they say that ties into the larger national crisis of addiction.

They also wrote a children's book, You Are Always Loved, that will be published concurrently in February 2021.

"We are thrilled for this opportunity to share our story. Writing a book like this — told from our dueling perspectives — was difficult and yet ultimately rewarding," Dean, 61, and Harry, 30, tell PEOPLE in a statement.

"We hope our honest account of our family’s brutal battle with addition and route to recovery provides readers with understanding, empathy, and — most of all — hope," the mother and son say. "We can’t combat the stigma around addiction and recovery unless we talk about it, so we figured we’d start at home by writing about our own story."

Under Our Roof
Random House

Dean shares Harry and her two other sons, Patrick, 32, and 27-year-old Alex, with husband Patrick Cunnane, 62. A member of the English Department at LaSalle University for 10 years before she decided to enter politics, Dean knew Harry was struggling for years but didn't know the cause.

She noticed Harry's lack of energy, his loss of friendships — and the drastic change in his personality. Meanwhile, Harry struggled with the fear and shame that surrounds addiction.

Then, just as Dean was about to enter the political arena, the truth came out. (Dean served in the Pennsylvania House before being elected to the U.S. House in 2018.)

Now sober, Harry serves as a resource director for the same treatment center where he originally sought help for his own addiction. He also volunteers at jails and rehab centers in Philadelphia to help others.

You Are Always Loved
Random House

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Harry's addiction — and his family's attempts to help him recover — are candidly detailed in Under Our Roof. He and his mom hope that their story will inform and inspire other families.

"Under Our Roof details the lies, manipulation, and pain shared in active addiction, and the hope, growth, and redemption found in recovery," they say. "We are so grateful for the opportunity to release a children’s book, You Are Always Loved, at the same time — to provide kids and families with an opening to talk about their fear and worry.

They continue: "For all children being raised in the periphery of addiction, may they find the hope and love around them."

Under Our Roof and You Are Always Loved will be published in February.

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