Tracy Stopler’s debut novel, The Ropes that Bind, deals with the under-reported crime of child sexual abuse and how it affects her protagonist, Tali Stark. Tali’s abuse is deftly and sensitively handled in this well-written story. The reader watches nine-year-old Tali grow into a functioning woman while holding her emotional trauma within her. Through her personal strength and determination—and the help of family, friends, mentors, and lovers, Tali becomes an integrated soul.
When nine-year-old Tali Stark from the Bronx stops to give directions to “The Man” in a white limousine, she unwittingly puts herself on a trajectory to emotional and spiritual turmoil that will take her decades to rise above. Blaming herself for the heinous crime that happened because she didn’t “go straight to school,” Tali is bound by invisible chains of secrecy, shame, and self-imposed isolation. Her harrowing and illuminating journey to recovery begins in her twenties with the support of her mentor, Dr. Daniel Benson, with whom she experiences deep love and then heartbreak. Feeling lost, Tali travels to Israel where Kabbalah sparks her spiritualism, and then to Africa where an arduous climb up Mount Kilimanjaro ignites a newfound feeling of empowerment. Only when Tali goes back to the Bronx and learns that her unreported crime scene has become the site of a rehabilitation center, does she understand that there is one more road to travel prior to reaching freedom.