For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal's personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise.
We never call it homeless. We're just camping in the jungle on Kauai...
We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai's beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf...but we've been "camping" for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a tractor is coming to scrape our camp into the river.
Standing in front of the tent in my nightgown, clinging to my sister as we face the tractor, I know my own truth: I just want to be normal.
But Mom and Pop are addicted.
Addicted to Kauai's beauty, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules out from under their high-achieving parents' judgmental eyes. I'm just their red-headed, mouthy, oldest kid. What I want doesn't matter.
But I'm smart. I will make a different life for myself someday if I keep up my grades no matter what happens.
No matter how often we run out of food.
No matter how many times I change schools...or don't go to school at all.
No matter how many bullies beat me up for the color of my skin.
I might be growing up wild in Hawaii, but I have dreams I'm going to reach, no matter how crazy things get.
"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
Customer ReviewsSee All
I absolutely loved this read! It captivated me in many ways. I felt right there in the Hawaiian lushness as I turned each page. This book captivated many emotions. Would absolutely recommend to others!
Riveting and exposed for the world to see
Toby Neal has been a favorite author of mine for sometime now. Upon hearing that she was coming out with a memoir, I jumped at the chance to read it even though memoirs aren’t my usual read. I thoroughly enjoyed traversing back in time with Toby as she takes us through her journey growing up in Hawaii. She pulled me into her early life and I connected with her lonely childhood as she strives to try and fit in. I longed for her happiness and my heart broke for the many obstacles she endured. I felt as though had it been another time and place, we could’ve been great friends. As tough as life had been for Toby, she became an amazingly wonderful woman. An example of what love and forgiveness can do if you learn to let go of what haunts you.
Toby Neal is a truly gifted writer and this book may be the greatest example of that. I was taken on an emotional roller coaster while reading Toby’s memoir. There were times my heart just ached for young Toby and I could relate to her in many ways. She ended up inspiring me through her strength and perseverance for a “normal” life. It didn’t matter how many times she had to move, what conditions she lived in, or what she had to endure in her life. She always fought for more.
Thank you for sharing this side of Hawaii with us, and for giving us a glimpse into your childhood.