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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