An author’s powerful memoir continued

The powerful memoir Leaving Long Island by Fern Kupfer. (Photo Courtesy of Iowa Public Radio)

The powerful memoir Leaving Long Island by Fern Kupfer. (Photo Courtesy of Iowa Public Radio)

C. Jayne Trent

Reading this book was a bit like coming home.

I had read Kupfer’s previous memoir, “Before and After Zachariah,” in the ’80s. Beautifully written, honest and heart-wrenching, her story of life with a severely disabled son and her family’s difficult decision to institutionalize him stayed with me for decades. “Leaving Long Island was a chance to reconnect with a writer I’d admired for years, and I wondered if her new book would impress me as much as “Zachariah” had. The short answer is yes, it did.

Decades later, Kupfer is still immensely readable, earnest and engaging. This second memoir fills in the gaps of her life story, beginning with her youth in Long Island and marriage to high school sweetheart Joe, her first husband and father of her two children. The reader learns that Zachariah died at sixteen and that her first marriage ended explosively. She’s retired from her college teaching career in writing and is remarried. She is also a grandparent, but is dealing with health issues as she grows older. “Leaving Long Island” is a graceful, meditative reflection on life, loss and second chances. Kupfer explores her choices and the paths she’s taken with wit and unflinching honesty. This book is an entertaining and illuminating story of a life well-loved and well-lived. I enjoyed catching up with her after all these years and, while saddened by her losses, I was cheered by her resilience and optimism.

“We become someone else again,” says Kupfer, “just when we’ve gotten used to being who we are.”