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The Rope of Life: A Memoir by Mirinda Kossoff
Mirinda Kossoff took one flight in her father’s Cessna Skyhawk as he piloted and navigated by landmarks that revealed themselves through openings in the trees below. A short three years later, he was dead at age fifty-six. Memory of that ride fueled Kossoff’s desire to understand who her father was and the forces that shaped him. And by extension, how he shaped her life. Her need to know and to understand became a life-long pursuit. The Rope of Life: A Memoir is a daughter’s story told with love and compassion. Readers will come away wiser about family bonds and the ways in which they can hurt or heal.
Artisan’s Book Review
The Rope of Life is a deeply personal and riveting memoir by Mirinda Kossoff. It is both fascinating and uplifting.
Memoir provides an author an avenue to take a deep dive into the past. Through memoir, readers glimpse different lifestyles, pieces of history and locations they might never have known. I was gripped by this story and read it quickly over two days. I soaked up the historical information and was glued by the family dynamics. Although we understand there will be a sad ending, Mirinda Kossoff’ writes with such grace and humility that I was not left feeling sad. Rather, Kossoff’s drive to look beyond past hurts – and to understand the why of her life and her relationship with her father – is uplifting and inspiring.
My heart went out to her father, Hugh, who, determined to fit in, changes his first name, has a nose job and converts from Judaism to Christianity. These changes don’t seem to make a difference as this very intelligent, inventive man is still turned down in different ventures because of his surname. Despite embracing the Baptist church with fervor, he is still considered different because of his heritage. The psychological effect of such treatment was to leave scars that marred not only his personality but also his relationship with his daughter. I felt this keenly when he nicknamed the author ‘Cruella,’ without realizing the negative effect it would have on her confidence. I loved all the old photographs. They brought the story to life. The most compelling photo is one of the author at three years of age. She is sitting on a tricycle, laughing. To know that happy little girl grows up to become estranged from her father, whom she loved so much, was very sad. This is a tender book about family relationships and religious upbringing that will have readers completely captivated.
Mirinda Kossoff takes us on a beautiful walk through her family history. Touching on sensitive topics such as depression and suicide, the author writes so well that the telling is graceful, stirring and extremely human, so much so that she inspires us to examine our own lives and the meaning behind what we’ve experienced. This is certainly one of the most well-written, touching and passionate memoir’s I have read in a very long time. The Rope of Life: A Memoir by Mirinda Kossoff comes highly recommended by Artisan Book Reviews.
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About The Author
Mirinda Kossoff was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and grew up not that far away in the small textile and tobacco town of Danville, Virginia, which she couldn’t wait to escape. She managed to get as far away as Japan for work, after graduating from The College of William & Mary. Later, she lived in England for nine months. She has been a chameleon in her work life – from hospital social worker, assistant managing editor at a large newspaper, communications director in academia and nonprofits, freelancer, to metal smith, jewelry designer and member artist in Chapel Hill’s FRANK Gallery.
Her essays and creative writing have been passions she pursued alongside her day jobs. She penned a weekly column for a local paper, was an essayist/commentator on regional public radio, and taught essay writing at Duke University in a continuing education program now called OLLI. She has been published in newspapers and national magazines.
But there was a memoir in her for nearly two decades, and finally she gave breath and life to it—a memoir that wrestles with suicide, family, and growing up divided between the cultured Jewish side of her family and the fundamentalist Southern Baptist side. Her memoir is set against the backdrop of her small Southern town upbringing, of town and family secrets, of her relationship with her troubled father, and of not belonging—in her town or in her own family. For years, Mirinda avoided her life’s purpose—to tell her story as truthfully and honestly as she could. Now she has done that, and she will keep writing from her heart and her experience. Visit author Mirinda Kossoff’s website https://mirindakossoff.com/