Featured Selection: Freckled by T W Neal
T W Neal
“An affecting and riveting chronicle of a singular childhood that evokes the contradictions of hippie utopian ideals in an unspoiled Hawaiian landscape long since lost.” ~Kirkus Reviews
Born in 1965 to hippie surfer parents who just want to ride waves, use substances, and hide from society, red-headed Toby grows up as one of only a few hundred Caucasian “haole” people on the rugged, beautiful North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii.
“I wish I could slow down time, turn every moment to honey and watch it drip by.” Told from the immersive, first-person view of a child experiencing turbulent times as they occur, Freckled will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget as Toby catches an octopus with her bare hands to feed the family, careens on her first bike down a rugged dirt trail deep in the jungle, and makes money by selling magic mushrooms to a drug dealer.
Living in tents and off the land without electricity or communication with the outside world, Toby escapes into reading and imagination to deal with racial harassment and indifferent parenting.
Toby’s idealistic parents, breaking away from high achieving families, struggle with mental health and addiction issues as they try to live according to their own rules. Despite the hardship and deprivations of life on Kauai, they return again and again to an island whose hold on them is more powerful than any drug, as sensitive and resilient Toby clings to a dream of academic achievement and a “normal” life.
From Toby Neal:
Writing this book was like struggling to give birth while being the baby being born. Freckled is my personal Everest as an author, and I am delighted to finally share this book, ten years in the writing, with the world.
Everything that happens to us is the stuff of story, and some of the best stories are true.
About T W Neal:
TW Neal is the nonfiction writing name for USA Today bestselling, award-winning author Toby Neal.
Neal, a redheaded, freckle-faced clinical social worker, and mental health therapist, grew up on the island of Kaua`i, inspiring her memoir, FRECKLED: a Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii.
“Everything that happens in our lives is the stuff of story,” Neal says, “and sometimes the best stories are true.”
You can get TWO FREE award-winning, full-length Toby Neal fiction novels by signing up for her email newsletter! http://tobyneal.net/TNNews
Review by Judith M. Buchalski:
FRECKLED is Toby Neal’s long-awaited memoir of growing up in the 1970s counterculture community of Kaua’i.
This is the book that Toby Neal was born to write, and it’s the story that her friends and fans have been waiting to read for years. IT DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. It’s a story of idealistic, though self-absorbed young parents, trying to carve out a perfect life in paradise. It’s also the story of grinding poverty, failed dreams and heartbreaking love. All this from the perspective of a strong, intelligent child, whose personal resourcefulness saves her from simply falling, herself, into a life of substance abuse and desperation.
Hearing bits and pieces of the story of her unusual childhood over the years did not prepare me for the full picture of what Toby experienced and survived. When laid out chronologically, her story is nothing short of a page-turner.
In her afterword, Toby describes the time and effort that were expended in order to bring this book to fruition. And yet, I read it in one day, because I had to know what god awful thing her family would choose to endure next.
Good lord! Had this been a work of fiction, I’m pretty sure an editor would say, “Come on, give me a break. No one will believe the story of a family moving back and forth from Kaua’i to California, over and over and over, from one desperate situation to the next. Who does that to themselves? To their children?”
And what an offbeat motif: the rebellious mouthy firstborn child, whose clear-eyed critique of her parent’s lifestyle means that her personal rebellion takes the form of seeking normalcy!
The writing is beautiful, brutally honest and often soul-scorching.
Toby acknowledges the influence of Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight, and lovers of that memoir will, indeed, love this memoir. Thank you, Toby, for so generously sharing your life with us.