Jan 7, 2014

Free Spirit


Free Spirit: Growing Up On The Road and Off The Grid 

Joshua Safran 

Hyperion Publishing 


When 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.


A heart-wrenching memoir, this book  chronicles Joshua Safran's unforgettable and unbelievable childhood. At the age of four, Joshua' mother decides that the only way to protect themselves from the threat of nuclear war and keep hidden away from the watchful eye of "Big Brother" is to embark on a journey to find his mother's evolving version of utopia, on the road and off the grid. His formative years were spent living in a menagerie of places: out of teepees, buses and even a lean-to on a stump. He finally gets a chance to reenter society when he enters the education system, but finds that the America he thought he knew is a difficult and confusing place.
Despite the  stories penned in the pages,I couldn't help but feel empowered after finishing the novel. Even though his childhood was not the greatest, Joshua still turns out to be a remarkable person. He didn't bury his head in the sand. Instead, he has used his experiences in hopes to help others have a better life.  

Rating: 4/5

I received this complimentary book courtesy of the publisher.

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