Tin Man by Sarah Winman

 

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My Review:

Tin Man, a tender and beautiful story, is heartbreaking and wonderfully moving.  At twelve years old, Ellis and Michael become friends.  They both have difficult family lives and less than stellar relationships with their fathers.  They spend lots of time together having fun and exploring their town outside of London, and then, their close friendship becomes something more.

Ten years later, Ellis is married to Annie and Michael is out of the picture.  Ellis is burdened with shame, stemming from his past, his insecurities about who he really is and fear of his father.  Author Sarah Winman writes about Ellis and Michael as young boys and as grown men, telling us all that happened in between.  It is a complex love story of sorts, really, a life story of two men, their choices and regrets, and also a story of strong women who allow these men to journey toward their own truths by providing love, support, friendship and family.  With memories of love and loneliness, these wonderful characters and powerful relationships are captivating, expressive and unforgettable.  For me, other compelling and interesting parts of the story include Van Gogh’s painting of The Sunflowers, France during the summer of 1969, and the late 1980’s AIDS epidemic.

Don’t be fooled by the small, diary-size of this novel – it packs a wonderful and powerful 5-star punch.

 

Tin Man Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Sarah Winman (born 1964) is a British actress and author. In 2011 her debut novel When God Was a Rabbit became an international bestseller and won Winman several awards including New Writer of the Year in the Galaxy National Book Awards.

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The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman

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My Review:

If you are craving a bit of Big Chill nostalgia this summer, The Gunners is a great choice!  Childhood relationships are revisited when six friends return to their hometown for a funeral of one of their own who committed suicide.  Each character feels some responsibility for the departure of their late friend and they reveal secrets from their past they had kept from others in the group.  As much as they knew and loved each other as kids, their sometimes distorted perspectives were shaped by what they didn’t know.  Alternating between childhood and current timing, Rebecca Kauffman shows us how we base our lives on our own personal reality, and what seems to be true from a distance may not always be the truth when examined up close.

The friend circle dissipated when they were teenagers because one of the six left the group without explanation, causing a fracture not to be repaired.  Each went on with their lives separately, feeling blame, shame and regret, but now, reconnecting over tragedy, the friends share all that they have been hiding over the years as they spend the night together following the funeral.

Mickey, the most developed character, has remained in his hometown and is a late bloomer; he comes into his own at thirty when he has to face his failing eyesight and his difficult relationship with his father.  He is a lonely guy with an average job, a quiet life and now, tragically he is going blind.  The rekindled childhood friendships he regains boost his morale, and the secrets, now told, bolster his strength, shed light on his family situation and increase his understanding of his own existence and purpose.

The Gunners is a beautiful story of old friends and memories of youth, and how they serve as the foundation of adult relationships, bringing understanding, warm feelings, comfort and support to our lives as we get older.  I highly recommend this book, especially of you are going to your high school reunion any time soon!

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

Rebecca Kauffman is originally from rural northeastern Ohio. She received her B.A. from the Manhattan School of Music in Violin Performance, and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from NYU. She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

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My Review:

How to Walk Away is a fast paced linear story, with flawed characters facing the challenges of tragedy, secrets and ultimately growth.  It is easy to read and perfect to bring along for a summer weekend away!

Occasionally predictable, yet continuously engaging, heartbreaking and humorous, we meet Margaret, a business school graduate about to be offered her first big job.  Her longtime neighbor turned boyfriend has been studying for his pilot’s license and he coaxes her into taking a joyride on a small plane where he has momentous plans to surprise her.  Her dreams are shattered when a tragic accident occurs, and they now have to struggle to accept the new reality.

At the same time Margaret’s sister shows up after being out of touch for 3 years to check in on her and reveal a family secret about their family.  Margaret reconnects with her seemingly rebellious sister and has to deal with her parents and their troubles, while trying to come to terms with her relationship and achieve some personal goals as the clock runs out.  Mixed with the tragedy and the family mystery, there is one love story fizzling and one brewing as Margaret alternately feels despair, motivation and then friendship with a handsome, Scottish physical therapist.

Katherine Center writes in a way that stirs up lots of emotions as we take the journey with Margaret.  The almost unbelievably ridiculous turn of events in this story and the emotional roller coaster kept me hooked.  Sometimes you just need to laugh, cry and get caught up in someone else’s crazy life, and How to Walk Away is a great choice!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Katherine Center is the author of six novels about love and family, including The Bright Side of Disaster, The Lost Husband, Happiness for Beginners—and the upcoming How to Walk Away. Her work has appeared in Redbook, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, InStyle, and Real Simple. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. Katherine lives in Houston with her husband and two sweet children.

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Dinner at The Center of The Earth by Nathan Englander

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My Review:

Dinner at the Center of the Earth is a thriller and a love story, told by brilliant best selling author Nathan Englander.  A Long Island, Jewish American man is a spy for Israel, becomes a traitor, and ends up in a one man prison in the Negev desert with his guard for a dozen years.  We learn all that leads up to the imprisonment, the emotional rollercoaster he experiences with his love for his country, a beautiful relationship with a Palestinian woman and a tricky friendship with a boating companion/business partner, all challenged by the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and the violent discourse in the Middle East.

Although the spy’s actions categorizing him as a traitor were against Israel, he was only supporting the Palestinians in order to stop the cycle of violence, which ultimately would benefit the country he fought for. His decisions were well meaning in his mind and complex, but with the countries in question, once innocent people die, there is no conceding on either side for fear of seeming weak.

For much of the time the traitor is imprisoned, the Israeli leader, The General, (representing Ariel Sharon) remained in a coma, while his followers prayed for peace.  So much regret mixed with unending violence and pride perpetuate the scheming and fighting, and Englander’s characters gives us an overview of points of view from the constant and never ending battles in a region where they have what seems like a pipe dream for peace.

Dinner at The Center of The Earth is a thriller with undercover spies, a love story and secret escape routes.  This laugh out loud funny, brilliant and insightful approach makes for an absorbing and exciting read despite the gruesome realities of an ongoing and devastating war and any background knowledge of the Middle East conflict, opinions and emotions the reader may carry into it.

I highly recommend this book, especially for book clubs and people interested in Israel.  Nathan Englander is a brilliant speaker, and his life experiences have shaped his thoughts and opinions so strongly; combined with his talent for storytelling, he is an exceptional writer.  Englander wants people to be empathetic and to think of others, to just be kind.  Unfortunately, war does not have much room for empathy, and although some of the Israelis and Palestinians want to be kind and caring, there are enough decision makers and leaders who are warriors – who will not allow deaths of their people to go without retaliation, vengeance or repercussion.  He conveys his ideas on the Israeli – Palestinian war through this fictional thriller with multiple layers. He shows us that the pursuit of peace is not simple and human nature can be consumed by “an eye for an eye”, but for love, it may just be possible to set vengeance aside…and go out for dinner.

For another Israel related book you may enjoy, CLICK HERE.

Dinner at The Center of The Earth Goodreads Summary

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About the Author (picked up from nathanenglander.com):

Nathan Englander’s most recent book is the novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth. He is the author of the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (advance praise here), as well as the internationally bestselling story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, and the novel The Ministry of Special Cases (all published by Knopf/Vintage). He was the 2012 recipient of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for What We Talk About. His short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Post, as well as The O. Henry Prize Stories and numerous editions of The Best American Short Stories, including 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. Translated into twenty languages, Englander was selected as one of “20 Writers for the 21st Century” by The New Yorker, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN/Malamud Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He’s been a fellow at the Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and at The American Academy of Berlin. In 2012, along with the publication of his new collection, Englander’s play The Twenty-Seventh Man premiered at The Public Theater, and his translation New American Haggadah(edited by Jonathan Safran Foer) was published by Little Brown. He also co-translated Etgar Keret’s Suddenly A Knock at the Door, published by FSG. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.

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The Seasons of My Mother by Marcia Gay Harden

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My Review:

In The Seasons of My Mother, Well known actress from stage and screen, Marcia Gay Harden, tells the story of her life in the context of memories she has with her mother. Their close relationship is so beautiful and all the more painful as her mother’s memory fades with the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Their mother-daughter bond is unbreakable and based on love, and due to the progression of the disease and the author’s fear that all would be forgotten, it became imperative that stories were recorded.

Remembering the past with family and friends is how we all stay connected, and I applaud Ms. Harden for writing this book honoring her mother, her wisdom, advise, strengths and hobbies in this loving tribute, so her mother can be known and connected to her children, grandchildren and those that come after, and the memories are never forgotten.

This memoir struck a chord with me because my father is living with dementia and although our situations are different, I know from experience, the disease hits hard, stealing memory little by little until there is no recollection of people, language, how to get dressed, how to eat, really anything at all…truly devastating for family and friends to see the person they know and love and not be recognized or acknowledged.

Marcia Gay Harden says “In this book, I do for my mother what she can no longer do. I remember.” I enjoyed getting a glimpse into Marcia Gay Harden’s life and background, and witnessing though stories their powerful mother-daughter relationship. I am a big fan and love her in the movie Pollock and on the TV series Code Black.

For another memoir about dementia, CLICK HERE.

Goodreads Summary

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About Marcia Gay Harden Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

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My Review:

Rebecca Stone desperately needs help with her newborn and Pricilla, a La Leche nurse from the hospital comes to her rescue.  Pricilla, having mothering experience herself as she was a single, teen mom many years ago, leaves her job at the hospital to becomes the nanny for Rebecca’s baby.  Rebecca feels close to Pricilla, confiding in her and voicing her fears, hopes and dreams while learning how to care for her child and what it means to be a mother; she looks up to her and relies on her stability and competence, and in some cases, due to the fact that Pricilla is black, she causes her to think about the world in a different way.  After an unexpected turn of events, Pricilla becomes pregnant, has the baby and then is gone, and Rebecca volunteers to adopt the newborn.  Rebecca feels this is the least she can do to thank Pricilla for all she has done.  But there is a lot Rebecca does not know about raising a child of a different race.  And she is blinded by her rose colored glasses when she looks at life.  

This story brings up a lot of questions and it is difficult not to pass judgement and have an opinion on Rebecca’s thoughts and actions.  Is she “saving” this black baby by bringing him into a white, wealthy family, or is she doing him a disservice by not allowing him to grow up with black parents who can teach him what it means to be black in America?  She doesn’t know much about being black; how to take care of black hair and skin, and she doesn’t think much about what prejudices he might face as a black man.  That Kind of Mother is about the challenges of motherhood, race and how family can be created without being blood related, but it is also commentary on selfishness disguised as selflessness, lack of understanding blinded by positivity and hopefulness for the future.

Rebecca’s view of her relationship with Pricilla is so much different than what I saw as a reader.  She believes they are connected, the closest of friends, and she feels loyal to Pricilla because of what she has been taught about mothering and due to the support she has felt from her during the most stressful part of her life when she was responsible for her brand new baby.  But my opinion is this:  the relationship was one sided.  Pricilla was doing a great job being a nanny, supporting the mother, teaching her how to care for her child, listening to her talk, and providing her with the time to be independent.  But did Rebecca know anything about Pricilla?  Her family?  Her home life? Her hopes and dreams?  Did she ever ask her? Rebecca may have been privileged – white, wealthy, recognized in her field, and able to provide an adopted child a financially solid home, but I believe this perceived friendship, combined with her own self centered outlook on life (regardless of race) misguided her and adopting this baby was not necessarily the best thing for him or for Rebecca’s family.

To give you something more to think about, this book was written by Rumaan Alam,  the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, married to a white man and raising two adopted black sons in Brooklyn, NY.  Alam does a great job writing from a woman’s perspective as he explores women’s friendships, describes giving birth, breastfeeding and articulating thoughts inside the head of a woman.  He also shows how families are formed in many ways and can be very different, but they all have things in common too.  Parenthood is a challenge no matter who you are, and acknowledging what you don’t know can be a good thing – often it takes a village.  I highly recommend this book, and particularly for bookclubs as it has so much to discuss.

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

My stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Crazyhorse, Meridian, and elsewhere. I’ve written on design and other subjects for the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and other places. I studied writing at Oberlin College. Now I live in New York with my husband and two kids. I am very good at building things out of Legos and making overly-complicated dinners.

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The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

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My Review:

The Nobel Peace Prize winning author and Holocaust survivor, Elie Weisel, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006 where Oprah played clips from an interview they had done on site at Auschwitz.  In addition, on the same episode, Oprah was recognizing fifty winners of a high school essay contest who had written about Elie Weisel’s Night and its’ current day relevance.  Clemantine Wamariya was one of the winners and was called up on stage to talk with Oprah.  Clemantine was a Rwandan refugee who, along with her older sister, was separated from her parents and feared they were dead.  For many grueling years the girls trekked through Africa during the genocide, escaping murderers and rapists, living in refugee camps and unsafe places, battling lice, starving and sleeping outside, and ultimately, after being granted asylum, ending up in the Chicago area and started new lives.  Clemantine has said that “Night was the door that opened up the world for me.  It made me feel not alone.  Wiesel had words to express experiences I couldn’t articulate.  He shared thoughts and feelings that I was too ashamed to name.”  Thinking she was on the show for her essay, she was in the front row and Oprah started asking her some questions about her family. Clemantine and her sister had not seen their parents since 1994, and in 2005, one year prior to this Oprah Winfrey Show episodehad learned they were still alive. On this day, as a surprise, Oprah brought Clemantine’s parents and younger siblings from Africa to Chicago and as a colossal surprise in an emotionally charged moment, she reunited them on stage.  See the video here.

The visceral joy we see in the video is the joy of a six year old girl being returned to her parents, yet the relationships of the family members had become much more complex due to everyone’s traumatic experiences of the past 12 years.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is Clemantine’s personal story; a six year old’s journey in war torn Africa, and coming of age as a teenager in the United States living with the demons of the past while searching for self worth and purpose in a country with unlimited opportunities and excess.  Clemantine’s story is just one of many who survived the genocide in Africa in the 1990s – so heartbreaking and also deeply hopeful. I am a huge fan of Clemantine’s, her strength and will to honor her experiences, create and stand up for her own identity, and her commitment to finding joy.  This is a must read!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Clemantine Wamariya is a storyteller and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflict, Clemantine migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age twelve, she was granted refugee status in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She lives in San Francisco.

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The Ropes That Bind by Tracy Stopler

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My Review:

WOW! The Ropes That Bind is a heartbreaking, powerful and hopeful story of a woman’s journey and her quest for healing and growth after being sexually assaulted as a young girl.

As Tali crosses the street to get to her elementary school, a man in a white limo asks her for directions.  It is raining and he says she should get in to the car so she doesn’t get wet, and Tali wants to be helpful so she gets in and shuts the door.  For 3 1/2 hours she is missing and experiencing the unthinkable, but nobody knows.  Tali lives with this secret that perpetually tries to suffocate her inner light as she spends her life attempting to erase the pain and outrun the demons.  Her journey is remarkable and through several relationships, medical, religious and spiritual education, talk therapy and physical challenges, Tali reaches a place of acceptance, healing and the ability to move forward and make a difference.

Her continual search for answers, her pursuit for healing, validation and reasons to love and be loved, along with her inner strength, courage and never ending will to contribute to society in a positive way and help people, sets an example for all of us on how to live – how to break free from our own personal ropes that bind. Heartbreaking, terrifying and wonderfully inspiring, I highly recommend this fictional novel based on a true story.

Q and A with Tracy Stopler

I am lucky enough to have connected with debut author Tracy Stopler and had the wonderful opportunity to ask her a few questions about her incredible book and her very full life.

It is hard not to question the possibility that your main character, Tali Stark, might be you, Tracy Stopler.  Was Tali’s abduction and abuse experience your reality?

The simple and honest answer is yes, The Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse, is based on an event that happened to me when I was nine years old. I first wrote this story as a memoir, but I had to create some scenes to move the story along and I felt it was more honest (and easier to write) once I called it fiction (“based on a true story”). With this being said, the majority of names have been changed but mean something to me as the writer. There are two exceptions: One, the names of the missing children; and two, the name of Tali’s colleague, Rich Faust, who was my dear friend, colleague and editor. Prior to Rich’s passing he told me that he wanted his real name to be used. Because he never got to publish his work on personality types, I was thrilled to honor his request. Some of the other characters are actually two or more combined personalities of people I know.

What part of Tali’s story is fiction? The relationship with her older mentor, Daniel?  The failed marriage to Stuart?  The relationship with the smart but slightly deviant Avi? Her ultimate reconnection with Alex?  The car accident, the hernia, the trip to Israel?

The relationship with her older mentor, Daniel is a true story and a true blessing.

Interesting how the term “failed marriage” still stings. This is mostly true and mostly a blessing. My own demons got in the way of more blessings, but I’m so happy that our friendship continues today.

The relationship with the (very) smart, (very funny) and (very) deviant Avi is also based on someone I know, but there is a lot of creative writing in this section. Here is where Tali learns to trust her intuition and chooses to walk away from love rather than stay in an unhealthy relationship. I was very proud of her ☺!

The reconnection with Alex is unbelievable, not only to me, but also to anyone who knows the story. In real life I had not been in contact with “Alex” in over 30 years. I wrote that entire section of the book as fiction with the exception of Tali’s dream of going to the 25th High School Reunion and reconnecting with Alex. (FYI: All of the dreams written in this book were real dreams of mine).  After the book was complete, but prior to publication, “Alex” called me (in real life). The only thought that came to my mind in that moment was the quote from The Ten Commandments. “So let it be written, so let it be done.”  

Moses (played by Charlton Heston): “… Let my people go.” 

Rameses II (played by Yul Brynner): “So let it be written, so let it be done.”  

I thought this real life reconnection was a beautiful coincidence. Not to ruin a happy ending for the readers, but, “Alex” and I were never romantic. But, don’t be sad, we are each in a healthy and happy relationship with other people.  

The car accident, the hernia on Mount Kilimanjaro and the trip to Israel are all true, but some of the dialogue on the mountain was creative writing and I did not take the Kabbalah class in Israel; I took it in New York. 

Tali doesn’t talk much about her relationship with her mother.  It seems like maybe her mother chose not to, or was not able to be as supportive as Tali needed.  Can you tell me more about that relationship?

Many mother-daughter relationships are complicated. Growing up, my relationship with my mom was no different. What I can say now is that we have a wonderful relationship. I know with 100 percent certainty that we both did the best that we could with the knowledge that we had. 

In many ways the childhood trauma made Tali more productive and focused. The obsession with keeping a list of abducted children was time consuming and I wondered if that made Tali feel she wasn’t alone or did it perpetuate her feelings of helplessness?

There is no right answer here. I want the reader to have their own opinion as to why Tali kept track of other missing children and whether or not it helped her to move forward. 

Often people who experience trauma turn to drugs alcohol or other addictions to escape the pain of the memories in an attempt to forget. Why do you think Tali was able to be focused on health and education and intellectual growth and understanding?

Tali may have passed the test of avoiding drugs and alcohol when she was in college, but she certainly had other obstacles. As the writer (and as a survivor), I wanted Tali to be in control. Tali wanted Tali to feel in control. But being and feeling in control are two different things. Hopefully the reader was able to follow Tali’s transformation.  

People often do big things to overcome inner struggles and climbing Kilimanjaro would be one of them. Was this accomplishment helpful for Tali in terms of moving forward?

Overcoming obstacles may require several steps. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was huge for Tali. Finishing this book was huge for me ☺. 

I enjoyed all the references to Judaism (you sparked my interest in Kabbalah and the ability to receive light and share it), I remembered much of the news you mentioned regarding missing children (and then realized my knowledge of AIDS/HIV in the 80s was limited, probably due to the stigma the disease carried and the assumptions about who had it and how it was transmitted), and joyfully recalled my own family memories at the mention of Allan Sherman (10 years ago I rebought My Son the Folksinger in CD form so I could listen in the car)…did you, Tracy, study Kabbalah, keep a list of the missing, do HIV/AIDS related research…and what was your research process for the book?

I hope seeing Allan Sherman’s name made you smile. I did study Kabbalah, but not in Israel (as mentioned in the book). I took classes in NYC, on Long Island and studied a lot on my own. Although I kept a list of missing children, I was not as thorough as Tali was. I think if I were actually keeping track of how many children were murdered, I would have become devastated. As a registered dietitian I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with patients living with HIV and AIDS. I did this twice – as portrayed in the story – once, right out of college when I worked at the Bronx VA Medical Center and then again, years later, when I took a position in Rockland County. The research for this book was never ending. Just when I was about to publish the story (for the first time), Jaycee Lee Dugard’s captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido was sentenced to 431 and 36 years respectively; another little boy, eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky from Boro Park, Brooklyn, went missing and was found murdered; on a happier note, Elizabeth Smart who had been missing for nine months was now on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine – she had just gotten married. And then there was the BREAKING NEWS; the craziness: Pedro Hernandez had confessed to murdering Etan Patz. This was followed by the three missing Cleveland girls found alive. It was such an emotional time and I couldn’t sleep. I just wanted the world to stand still for 24 hours. 

Your calling seems to be helping others who experienced childhood trauma and teaching, and you have done so much personal work to get to the place of comfort in having your voice be heard publicly…do you have any plans to tackle something huge like climbing another mountain or are you content with your current contributions to this world (and are they mutually exclusive?) 

Thank you, Jennifer. Like Tali, I have had many opportunities to physically climb other mountains and I have declined. I choose to channel my energy by paying it forward in helping others to find their voice. In doing so, I have truly summited. 

See Tracy Stopler’s Powerful Tedx Talk at Adelphi University Here.

Have you ever met any of the high profile abductees who were “found”, like Michelle Knight?

No, I haven’t met any survivors of childhood abduction, but I have met too many survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Remember, the percentage for child abduction and/or sexual abuse by a stranger is far lower (~7%) than the percentage by a known and trusted person (family member, teacher, coach, clergy, babysitter) (~93%).

Finally, was this book written solely as catharsis to help with healing, and do you have any plans to write another one?

I started journaling from the time I was ten years old. A lot of my writing from the past was adapted for this book. Finishing the story was a therapy assignment. At the time, it was part of the healing journey. I continued writing long after therapy and although it wasn’t always cathartic, I can honestly say that now that it’s done, and it’s helping others find their path to heal, nothing hurts! 

I have started another book. Although Tali is a character in the book, the main characters are her two precious dogs, Java and Binah (who are both mentioned in The Ropes That Bind). This light-hearted story is a memoir written in the voice of both Java and Binah. Unlike writing The Ropes That Bind, this book is so much fun to write. I truly love being inside the head of the different dog characters. Although this is a completely different book than my first, it still has life lessons for both parents and children. 

The Ropes That Bind by Tracy Stopler received the 2017 Independent Press Award and the NYC Big Book Award for “Distinguished Favorite” in the category of Women’s Fiction.

See The Ropes That Bind Book Trailer Video Here.

 

Child Sexual Abuse Statistics (as stated in The Ropes That Bind):

Child sexual abuse is an underreported crime.  The vast majority (86%) is never reported.

As many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men report being sexually abused before the age of 18.

Disabled children are 4 to 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse.

90-93% of the perpetrators are known to their victims.

Children rarely make up accusations of sexual abuse.

 

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

Tracy Stopler, M.S.,R.D., is a registered dietitian, with a Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University, and the nutrition director at NUTRITION E.T.C. in Plainview, New York. Her areas of expertise include Clinical and Sports Nutrition and Mind/Body Medicine.

Tracy has been an adjunct nutrition professor at Adelphi University for 20 years and has published extensively on the topic of nutrition and exercise. She earned her certificate in Clinical Training for Mind/Body Medicine from Harvard Medical School. As a pastry chef, she modifies traditional recipes for those with dietary restrictions.

Tracy is passionate in her role as the Enough Abuse Campaign Coordinator at The Safe Center on Long Island. With a dedicated team of volunteers, she helps to bring child sexual abuse awareness to the public. Prior to this role, Tracy served as a volunteer SAFER Advocate (Survivor Advocate for Emergency Response) and as a child victim’s advocate, working with abused children and their non-offending family members.

Tracy’s favorite personal achievements have been summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and completing her award-winning debut novel, The Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse.

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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My Review:

LOVED THIS BOOK! The Great Alone is an epic story of love of family and love of home –  full of emotion with picturesque descriptions of the beautiful and dangerous Alaskan landscape and the depiction of a non traditional way of life. Powerful and heartbreaking, author Kristin Hannah tells the story of passionate yet struggling husband and wife, Ernt and Cora, and teenage daughter Leni in 1974, showing the capacity for endurance, tolerance, strength, and dedication to family.

When Ernt returns home after being a POW in Vietnam, he is not the same happy husband and father he once was.  Angry and on edge, privately suffering, he is continually searching for freedom, a new and peaceful place to call home with his supportive wife and young daughter.  A perfect opportunity arises and he impulsively moves his small family to a remote village in Alaska.  With no running water or electricity, wild animals and harsh weather, this new way of life is focused on survival, and with some reservations but with dedication and devotion, 13 year old Leni and her mom, Cora are supportive and go all in.  With support from the small, neighborly Alaskan community, they learn to hunt and live off the land and adapt to the challenging lifestyle in hopes of having a happy family life.

When the endless Alaskan summer days turn dark and frigid, Ernt’s PTSD is triggered and his anger and violent behavior put Leni and Cora in grave danger.  Living in isolation, with secrets and fear, mother and daughter must be physically and mentally strong and make some life changing decisions before it is too late.   The hopes for fresh beginnings and endless love turn to misguided obsessions and uncontrollable domestic violence, causing a whirlwind of emotions and making this an exceptional book.

If you loved The Nightingale, where Kristin Hannah shows us the strength of brave women risking their lives for others in the French Resistance in World War II, you will love The Great Alone, fiercely independent women who fight to survive, risking their lives for the love of family, community and each other.  A story of resilience, nature and human nature, this is a must read!

If you would like to read an incredible, true story about a girl who grew up in the mountains, CLICK HERE.

The Great Alone Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.

Kristin’s highly anticipated new release, The Great Alone, was published on February 6, 2018 (St. Martin’s Press). The novel, an epic love story and intimate family drama set in Alaska in the turbulent 1970’s is a daring, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival and the wildness that lives in both nature and man. It has been listed as one of the most anticipated novels of the year by The Seattle Times, Bustle.com, PopSugar, Working Mother, Southern Living, and Goodreads.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with award-winning director Michelle MacLaren set to direct. Home Front was optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to write, produce, and direct. Movie news on The Great Alone is coming soon.

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