THE ROPE SWING: A Memoir

Available at Hearthfire Books

Tattered Cover in Denver and Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena

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The Rope Swing is the story of one woman’s attempt to save her aging Hippie mother from drug addiction. Candace Kearns Read’s memoir tells the story of her days as a Hollywood script reader and production assistant trying to save her mother from losing her house, her mind and her life, and the compassionate detachment she finds that enables her to save herself instead. Published by Eagle Wings Press (August 2016).

PRAISE FOR THE ROPE SWING:

“Candace Kearns Read writes with the propulsive energy of someone who knows that saving your life isn’t a one-time thing, but ongoing work, destined to happen again and again. THE ROPE SWING is the story of trying to keep a heart open against all the forces that would try to shut it down. But the real wonder is all the light on the page, “so awake and warmed by inner fires.”

–Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door (Graywolf Press, 2016).

“Honest, compassionate, and full of deep, vivid, observation, Candace Kearns Read’s The Rope Swing lays bare the ripple effects of growing up with emotional and financial uncertainty, and shows the bravery necessary to both make peace with and break free from one’s past.”

–Gayle Brandeis, author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (Harper San Francisco), The Book of Dead Birds: A Novel (HarperCollins), Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine) and My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers).

The Rope Swing offers comfort in those lonely hours when many of us wonder, ‘Is my family really crazy or is it all in my head?’ If you have to ask, it’s real. Candace Kearns Read offers a candid invitation into her upside-down world, and in so doing confirms our own. Read exquisitely expresses the broken promise of motherly love, the redemption of daughterly forgiveness, and the hope of mothering the broken child within us all.”

–Cara Lopez Lee, author of They Only Eat Their Husbands: Love, Travel, and the Power of Running Away (Conundrum Press, 2014)

“I didn’t just read about Candace’s hippie childhood, her life as a Hollywood scriptwriter, and the crazy mother who challenged her every step of the way—I became immersed in her world. The Rope Swing does what all great memoirs do: it tells a unique but thoroughly relatable story.”

–Shari Caudron, author of Who Are You People? A Personal Journey into the Heart of Fanatical Passion in America (Barricade Books, 2006) and Author/Speaker/Coach with The Narrative Group, LLC.

The Rope Swing is an honest and touching exploration of a complicated mother-daughter relationship.  With sensitivity and insight, it shows how the past ripples into the present. None of us can ever completely walk away from our childhoods, nor would we want to.  The past shapes the present, and only in an honest accounting can we reject the harmful and celebrate the good.”

–Laila Ibrahim, founder of The Woolsey Children’s School in Berkeley, CA and author of The Yellow Crocus (2010) and Living Right (2016).

“Candace Kearns Read writes about growing up in her family with a sharp eye for the absence and the presence of love and belonging. Her memoir, largely set in California in the 1970’s, is like opening a time capsule to a complex psychological environment. The Rope Swing is a poignant tug on the tethers and tensions between mothers and daughters and is a profound look at when to hold onto family and when it’s time to let go.”

–Elaine Gale, creator of the one-woman show One Good Egg, and former reporter/columnist for The Los Angeles Times and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“Candace allows us to ride along on her rope swing so we can all see how our childhood and family dynamics affect how we view the world.  Some simply survive while others like Candace use those challenges to thrive.”

–Erika Armstrong, author of A Chick in the Cockpit: My Life Up in the Air (Behler Publications, 2015)

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QUESTIONS FOR READERS

THE ROPE SWING by Candace Kearns Read

  1. How has society changed between present day and the 1970’s in terms of social services, parenting laws, expectations, etc.?
  2. How compatible do you think Joe and Candace are? What draws them together? What keeps them together?
  3. Why did Candace feel anger and resentment when she first learned about her half-sister at the age of 32?
  4. How does the appearance of Candace’s half-sister Nancy change the dynamics in the relationship between Candace and her mother?
  5. Do you like Carol? Hate her? A little of both? Why or why not?
  6. To what extent do you feel Candace brought her problems upon herself?
  7. An earlier draft of the book ended before Carol’s death. Why do you think the author decided to extend the story to include those scenes?
  8. In a memoir, the author uses fictional techniques to tell a true story. Was this book successful in telling a true story that read somewhat like fiction? Why or why not?
  9. What do you think the ultimate message of the book is?
  10. Can anyone ever save a person who doesn’t want to be saved?
  11. In what way does Candace harm herself in the process of trying to help her mother?
  12. In what ways are Candace and Carol similar? How are they different?
  13. Why do you think the author chose to alternate POV’s between the adult and child narrators?
  14. Why do you think the story is told in present tense?
  15. What does it mean when the adult Candace says she keeps trying “like Sisyphus” to save her mother from herself?
  16. How much responsibility do you think we should take for our relatives when they have acted with selfishness and/or self-destructiveness?