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This memoir is an unflinching witness of what it means to be homeless, mentally ill, and addicted in America - and to love someone who is all of those things. Fort Unicorn is, more than anything else, a vivid and tender portrait of people who are too often invisible to society.

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A retired boxer sets out in search of her daughter, Shyloh, an addict living with mental illness on the streets of San Diego. In Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing, Nelson tries desperately to find – and save – her first-born, delving into the roots of mental illness, addiction, and the meaning of unconditional love.


This memoir is at once spare, raw, heartbreaking and lovely. The stories are unique and yet familiar for anyone impacted by substance use disorder which, at this point, is all of us. Fort Unicorn is a gift to the world, because it reminds us of the humanity in every person struggling with addiction.


Nora Hertel

Journalist and the founder of The Optimist,

a digital news startup in Minnesota. 


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about the author
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About the Author

Andrea Nelson lives and coaches boxing in Madison, Wisconsin. When she’s not in the gym training her boxers, you can find Andrea out tending her gardens, chickens, and bees, or running the nearby trails.


She shares life with her partner, James.


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