By Hattie Kauffman
Baker Books (2013)
Review by Rachael Marchbanks
Hattie Kaufmann, an Emmy Award-winning reporter, veteran on-camera correspondent, and news anchor for ABC and CBS news, has a career and accompanying portfolio that many aspiring journalists can only hope to achieve. One might expect her memoir to detail challenges at an elite academy or Ivy League school, or to highlight a supportive parent or a mentor with powerful connections who helped open doors for her. This is not that kind of memoir. It is not filled with ideas on how the reader can also become famous and successful. This is a surprising, heartfelt, humble hero’s journey kind of memoir.
The story begins with her husband of 17 years announcing he wants a divorce. Her ensuing, present-day challenges are then interwoven with memories of her childhood—snapshots of severe poverty, hunger, and alcoholic parents. Seeking opportunity, Kauffman’s parents left the support of relatives on the Nez Perce reservation and relocated along with their seven kids to Seattle. Growing up poor in a large city during an era with few social safety nets, Kaufmann watched her parents struggle with addiction and with providing for their family. At one point Kaufmann relates a chilling episode where her parents disappeared altogether. While Kauffman and her siblings employed creative methods to survive, her childhood flashbacks also include joyful moments, kind strangers, brave siblings, and a loving aunt who plants seeds of faith and hope.
During Kauffman’s soul searching through the pain and loss of her marriage, she questions herself, yet discovers a deep well of gratitude. She slowly realizes she is not alone. Finding solace in passages from Gideon’s Bible in hotel rooms and recalling her missionary aunt’s guidance from childhood, Kaufman is eventually, tentatively, led to a faith and purpose larger than herself. By connecting with a higher being who she realizes was there through it all, she finds meaning in her loss and empathy towards herself and others. Kauffman draws support from her family, her culture, and a new found faith which helps her cope with her present loss and come to terms with childhood trauma. She perseveres through the stumbling, finds truth and meaning, and ultimately everything “falls into place.”
This is a book you will want to share with your friends, but be sure to buy them their own copy because it’s also one you’ll want to keep on your own shelf and return to when you need courage and inspiration.
Rachael Marchbanks is the publisher of Tribal College Journal.