Booksparks PR Presents: Free Spirit

Title:  Free Spirit: growing up on the road and off the grid
Author:  Joshua Safran
Format:  Print
Length:  288 pages
Publisher:  Hyperion
Rating: 5 Stars
An Unforgettable Journey Through an Unconventional ChildhoodWhen Joshua Safran was four years old, his mother--determined to protect him from the threats of nuclear war and Ronald Reagan--took to the open road with her young son, leaving the San Francisco countercultural scene behind. Together they embarked on a journey to find a utopia they could call home. In Free Spirit, Safran tells the harrowing, yet wryly funny, story of his childhood chasing this perfect life off the grid--and how they survived the imperfect one they found instead.

Encountering a cast of strange and humorous characters along the way, Joshua spends his early years living in a series of makeshift homes, including shacks, teepees, buses, and a lean-to on a stump. His colorful youth darkens, however, when his mother marries an abusive and alcoholic guerrilla/poet.

Throughout it all, Joshua yearns for a "normal" life, but when he finally reenters society through school, he finds "America" a difficult and confusing place. Years spent living in the wilderness have not prepared him for the Darwinian world of teenagers, and he finds himself bullied and beaten by classmates who don’t share his mother’s belief about reveling in one’s differences.

Eventually, Joshua finds the strength to fight back against his tormentors, both in school and at home, and helps his mother find peace. But Free Spirit is more than just a coming-of-age story. It is also a journey of the spirit, as Joshua reconnects with his Jewish roots; a tale of overcoming adversity; and a captivating read about a childhood unlike any other.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

I am honored to have experienced the story that is Free Spirit:  Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid.  Though the obstacles and circumstances that his mother's decisions and shall we say "extremely eccentric world view" put both he and herself in; they also created in Josh a very intelligent, sensitive, and resilient soul.
This is a book that speaks for all of the voiceless children of abuse, addiction, and all manner of circumstance which serves to rob them of their childhoods, identities, and any and all sense of stability.
Life as seen through the eyes of a very young Josh is a very vivid, albeit glaring and sometimes idealized picture of a mother trying to find herself and make what she perceives to be a better life for her son.
What is really going on is a never ending cycle of abuse and instability, with all too brief pockets of the sanity and comfort that young Josh craves.
This is a book that tells a story that has to be read to be believed, and once believed has to be shared with others.
I know that this review can in no way begin to express the profound effect that this book has had on me.
It was hard at times to turn the pages of this read, knowing that within it's lyrically composed passages, I would hear whispers of the ghosts of my childhood.
I would like to thank Josh for undertaking the Herculean task of setting his story to paper and allowing his life to serve as a much needed beacon to those struggling to find their way out of the darkness of their demons.

About Josh

Joshua SafranJoshua Safran is an attorney, writer, speaker, and occasional rabbi, and was featured in the award-winning documentary Crime After Crime, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and had its television debut as part of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)’s Documentary Film Club. He is a nationally recognized champion for women’s rights and a zealous advocate for survivors of domestic violence and the wrongfully imprisoned. For his work he has received national media coverage and numerous awards. He lives in Oakland, California.


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Tomorrow Comes Media Presents: Boxcar Baby

Title:  Boxcar Baby
(Steel Roots #1)
Author:  J.L. Mulvihill
Format:  Ebook
Length:   274 pages
Publisher:  Seventh Star Press
Rating:  4 Stars

Born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia. At least that is what Papa Steel always told AB'Gale. But now, fifteen years later, the man who adopted and raised her as his own is missing and it's up to AB'Gale to find him. Aided only by a motley gang of friends, AB'Gale train hops her way across the United States in a desperate attempt to find her papa and put her life and family back the way it was. Her only guide is a map given to her by a mysterious hobo, with hand written clues she found hidden in her papa's spyglass. Here is the Great American Adventure in an alternate steampunk dystopian world, where fifteen-year-old AB'Gale Steel learns that nothing is as it seems, but instead is shrouded in secrets and mysteries ... and that monsters come in all shapes and forms.
The Boxcar Baby is the first book of the Steel Roots series.

My Thoughts

Boxcar Baby is one of those rare finds of a book that manages to evoke images of a by-gone era in a way that is accessible not only to the YA audience, but to a wide range of readers across the literary spectrum.  

In AB'Gale, readers find a protagonist who is no stranger to the hard knocks of life, though her adoptive father and grandmother have done all they can to shield her and provide her with a loving and stable home.
With her father missing and her grandmother attempting to stall efforts by the land owner to take the family farm; AB'Gale embarks on a quest to find her missing father.

The tone of this book is very Dickensian, what with AB'Gale's hard scrabble beginnings, gaining home and stability, the threat of it's loss, and her having to venture out into the unknown to test her metal in order to find what she seeks.
The thing that makes this story so readable is the fact that readers become so invested in the spunky, resilient,  and determined young heroine that they are driven to know how her story ends.
When you add elements of steampunk, colorful characters, and a thread of mystery; you have a truly engrossing read.

Reviewer's Note:

No monetary compensation was received in return for this review.  Though I was provided with a review copy of the literary work in question: all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

About The Author

About J.L. Mulvihill:  Born in Hollywood and raised in San Diego, CA, J.L. Mulvihill has made Mississippi her home for the past fifteen years. Her debut novel was the young adult title The Lost Daughter of Easa, an engaing fantasy novel bordering on science-fiction with a dash of steampunk, published through Kerlak Publishing.  The Boxcar Baby, the first novel of her Steel Roots Series, was released by Seventh Star Press in the summer of 2013.
J.L. also has several short fiction pieces in publication, among them "Chilled Meat", a steampunk thriller found in the Dreams of Steam II-Of Bolts and Brass, anthology (Kerlak Publishing) and "The Leprechaun’s Story", a steampunk urban Fantasy found in the anthology, Clockwork, Spells, & Magical Bells (Kerlak Publishing)
J.L. is very active with the writing community, and is the events coordinator for the Mississippi Chapter of Imagicopter known as the Magnolia-Tower.  She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA), The Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG), as well as the Arts Council of Clinton, and the Clinton Ink-Slingers Writing Group.

Author Links:

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Tour Schedule and Activities

9/23    Come Selahway With Me                                                     Contest

9/23    Fantastical Adventures Through the Paper Realm             Review

9/23    The Flipside of Julianne                                                        Top Ten List

9/24    Jess Resides Here                                                                 Guest Post

9/24    Beagle Book Space                                                                Promo Spotlight

9/25    Sheila Deeth                                                                           Guest Post

9/25    Spellbindings                                                                          Promo Spotlight

9/25    Lost Inside the Covers                                                           Review

9/26    A TiffyFit’s Reading Corner                                                   Review

9/26    Azure Dwarf                                                                           Promo Spotlight

9/26    Rachel Tsoumbakos                                                              Character Interview & Review

9/26    A Daydreamer’s Thought                                                      Author Interview

9/27    Armand Rosamilia, Author                                                   Guest Post

9/27    Kayla’s Reads and Reviews                                                   Promo Spotlight

9/28    WTF Are You Reading?                                                          Review

9/28    Bee’s Knees Reviews                                                              Guest Post

9/28    Word to Dreams                                                                    Promo Spotlight

9/29    The Cabin Goddess                                                                Interview

9/29    Illuminite Calginosus                                                             Promo Spotlight

9/29    Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews                                            Character Interview

9/29    JeanzBookReadNReview                                                       Guest Post

9/29    Book and Movie Dimension                                                 Review

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