Author: Teresa Neumann
Publisher: All's Well House
Type of book: hippies, California, 1972-1973, farming, lost, jesus freak, motorcycle, warm-hearted tale of connections, second chances, probation, getting high, drugs, friendships, relationships
Year it was published: 2017
It's 1972 and a seismic clash-of-cultures is rattling northern California. In the redneck town of Trinity Springs, rumors of hippies migrating up from San Francisco have residents bracing for an invasion. When Italian-American hometown boy and Berkeley graduate Sid Jackson is busted for growing pot on his deceased parents' farm, locals suspect the assault has begun. Will a crazy deferral program devised by the sheriff keep Sid out of prison? Or will a house full of eccentric strangers, a passionate love interest, and demons from his past be his undoing? A "disarmingly appealing" tale of discrimination, transformation and restoration, Freaks is bursting with intrigue, drama, comic relief and romance. Reviewers agree this five-star, coming-of-age classic "very much reflects the attitude and mood of the times."
Main characters include Sid, Mika as well as Pearlie and Otis. There are secondary characters such as Ketch, Woolf, Liz and Kate and Max Quinn. Sid is an orphan who is half-Italian on his mother's side and who seems to be disconnected from everything. It also seems as if he has a chip on his shoulder that's not addressed. Sid inherits a farm and tries to do the very best he can in terms of his probation. Because of the negative experiences I've had with a number of jesus freaks, I was a bit on guard about Mika and half expected her to start preaching, but I am relieved to say that Mika did not attempt to convert or preach in the book. Mika is a warm-hearted woman in fact who is accepting and wants best for everyone. Otis is a local sheriff and is Sid's godfather. He is a warm personable man who has best interests of Sid and tries to do what he can for him. He was also best friends with Sid's parents. Pearlie is a great cook , generous with food and money and was also best friends with Sid's parents. Ketch is albino and has a lot of rough edges, but he is trying to grab a second chance. Not much is shown about Woolf aside from the fact he was in a war and is a kind veterinarian. Liz is best described as feminist who also has a lot of rough edges and becomes best friends with Mika. Kate Quinn is Sid's former babysitter who seems to seek something she cannot get, and Max is one that helped get Sid in trouble. He is Kate's younger brother.
A year can bring many changes to people
For perhaps 95 percent of the book the story is written in third person narrative from Sid's and Mika's point of view. The story's strong points is that history doesn't feel like history, if it makes sense; the reader becomes immediately roped in with Sid and the gang as they navigate the year and learn a lot about themselves throughout the months. I also enjoyed the characters a lot and wished that we could have seen more of Ketch, Woolf and Liz in the story. For some odd reason, I don't think I really bought Sid's growth throughout the year because he still had a lot of issues that seemed to be unresolved. But I did enjoy that nothing was instantaneous and it all took hard work and effort to come to certain points.
(From the website)
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About the Author:
Author of highly-acclaimed "A Year in the Company of Freaks," Teresa was raised in a large Midwest family and now lives in Oregon. She is also the author of "Bianca's Vineyard," and its sequel, "Domenico's Table." Both books are based on the true stories of her husband's Italian family in Tuscany. In addition to enjoying family, writing, reading, meeting her readers, wine tasting, traveling, and all things Italian, Teresa loves playing the fiddle with other musicians.
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I was born in mid '80s, therefore the '70s wasn't exactly a time of nostalgia for me, what it was however is a realization of the often used cliche: history repeats itself. I wasn't really sure what to make of the story to be honest because while it starts as sort of a flashback, not until the very end does the reader might suspect who the mysterious narrator is. I found the story a bit confusing and it often felt as if the style is designed to be a sitcom due to the episodic nature of the book, but at the same time it is definitely a highlight of the day and its something that any reader-historical fiction aficionado or not-can really sink their teeth into.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)