An affecting and riveting chronicle of a singular childhood that evokes the contradictions of hippie utopian ideals in an...



In this memoir, a woman explores the gifts and costs of being raised by free-spirited parents on the fringes of paradise.

Red-haired, freckled Neal was born in La Jolla, California, but her first memories were of playing naked in the surf in the 1960s on the beaches of Hawaii, where her hippie parents moved to escape convention. Even as a child, she learned to read the signs of her father’s bad moods that could lead to frightening rages. As she grew up on the remote island of Kauai, her life was governed by his temper and the repercussions of her parents’ lifestyle. Surrounded by like-minded drifters and surfers, they lived off the land, sometimes going hungry except for the fruit and fish they foraged. Through poverty, the birth of two girls, and a miscarriage, Neal’s parents remained beguiled by the lush landscape, fleeing their problems in a cloud of alcohol and pakalolo, the Hawaiian name for marijuana. But life was complicated for a girl navigating a world she loved yet where she remained an outsider, “haole crap,” to many locals who viewed the influx of white hippies with mistrust. Yo-yoing between Hawaii and California throughout her youth, she was forced to rely on her inner resources to develop a sense of identity, family, and home. The author, who has written books under the name Toby Neal (Wired Courage, 2018, etc.), has crafted a deeply personal coming-of-age narrative that is also an engrossing history of a bygone era. She paints a pre-tourist portrait of rural Kauai and the hippie surfer community that thrived there, buoyed by its beliefs in Eastern religion and the transcendental power of drugs. She skillfully captures the evolving perspective of growing up, from the naïve immediacy of childhood to the angry acuity of adolescence to the gentler perceptions of maturity. The scenic and cultural setting of Kauai filters through the text in vividly descriptive passages as well as the frequent use of Hawaiian words. Missing is any voice of the locals, although the author tries to remedy this with a foreword by John Wehrheim that discusses Kauai’s past. But being a white outsider is a major part of Neal’s story, so perhaps it is unavoidable that her narrative remains unbalanced.

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73277-125-3

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Neal Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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