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Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii

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For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise. Born in 1965 to hippie surfer parents who just want to ride waves, use substances, and hide from society, red-headed Toby grows up as one of only a few hundred Caucasian “haole” people on the rugged, beautiful North Shore of Kauai, Hawa For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise. Born in 1965 to hippie surfer parents who just want to ride waves, use substances, and hide from society, red-headed Toby grows up as one of only a few hundred Caucasian “haole” people on the rugged, beautiful North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii.“I wish I could slow down time, turn every moment to honey and watch it drip by.” Told from the immersive, first-person view of a child experiencing turbulent times as they occur, Freckled will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget as Toby catches an octopus with her bare hands to feed the family, careens on her first bike down a rugged dirt trail deep in the jungle, and makes money by selling magic mushrooms to a drug dealer. Living in tents and off the land without electricity or communication with the outside world, Toby escapes into reading and imagination to deal with racial harassment and indifferent parenting. Toby’s idealistic parents, breaking away from high achieving families, struggle with mental health and addiction issues as they try to live according to their own rules. Despite the hardship and deprivations of life on Kauai, they return again and again to an island whose hold on them is more powerful than any drug, as sensitive and resilient Toby clings to a dream of academic achievement and a “normal” life. “Neal’s prose is often effortless and elegant.” ~Kirkus Reviews


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For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise. Born in 1965 to hippie surfer parents who just want to ride waves, use substances, and hide from society, red-headed Toby grows up as one of only a few hundred Caucasian “haole” people on the rugged, beautiful North Shore of Kauai, Hawa For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise. Born in 1965 to hippie surfer parents who just want to ride waves, use substances, and hide from society, red-headed Toby grows up as one of only a few hundred Caucasian “haole” people on the rugged, beautiful North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii.“I wish I could slow down time, turn every moment to honey and watch it drip by.” Told from the immersive, first-person view of a child experiencing turbulent times as they occur, Freckled will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget as Toby catches an octopus with her bare hands to feed the family, careens on her first bike down a rugged dirt trail deep in the jungle, and makes money by selling magic mushrooms to a drug dealer. Living in tents and off the land without electricity or communication with the outside world, Toby escapes into reading and imagination to deal with racial harassment and indifferent parenting. Toby’s idealistic parents, breaking away from high achieving families, struggle with mental health and addiction issues as they try to live according to their own rules. Despite the hardship and deprivations of life on Kauai, they return again and again to an island whose hold on them is more powerful than any drug, as sensitive and resilient Toby clings to a dream of academic achievement and a “normal” life. “Neal’s prose is often effortless and elegant.” ~Kirkus Reviews

30 review for Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii

  1. 4 out of 5

    Toby Neal

    My personal Everest as a writer, this book is more than my story... it’s a glimpse into a place and time (Kauai in the 1970’s) that is gone forever.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ✨Sumi's Books✨

    Dysfunction through the eyes of a child... This book recounts the author's memories of instability in growing up with emotionally immature parents in unstable environments on the islands of Hawaii. Beautifully written in a matter of fact manner as though the reader is seeing it all as it is happening in real time. Although the facts are presented to the reader, the narrative is not dry, dull, or boring. There is a definitive story being told throughout. I love that through all the setbacks she face Dysfunction through the eyes of a child... This book recounts the author's memories of instability in growing up with emotionally immature parents in unstable environments on the islands of Hawaii. Beautifully written in a matter of fact manner as though the reader is seeing it all as it is happening in real time. Although the facts are presented to the reader, the narrative is not dry, dull, or boring. There is a definitive story being told throughout. I love that through all the setbacks she faces, the author never gives up. She keeps pursuing her dreams. I also love how the author was able to present everything to us without taking sides one way or the other. Both sides have flaws and the author is unbiased on this point. She presents us with a story in a way that lets us make our own decisions on the matter. I have never been to Hawaii myself. The closest I've come are the beaches of California. Most people talk of it as a paradise but, for this author, it was not a dreamy paradise that's so many people describe. For this author Hawaii was full of trials and tribulations that she had to overcome and get past in order to live the life that she so desperately wanted. Just such an amazing story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes reading memoirs.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

    Just finished my ARC copy of Freckled by Toby W Neal and I'm writing this with tears streaming down my face. She's not only one of my favorite authors but now one of my heros. Growing up in Kauai i with hippy parents, living in shacks if lucky and outside in tents or their van with no running water let alone hot running water or toilet, well let me tell you I don't believe I could have survived. This is a tale of how this young girl takes care of her drug and alcoholic parents, acts as caretaker Just finished my ARC copy of Freckled by Toby W Neal and I'm writing this with tears streaming down my face. She's not only one of my favorite authors but now one of my heros. Growing up in Kauai i with hippy parents, living in shacks if lucky and outside in tents or their van with no running water let alone hot running water or toilet, well let me tell you I don't believe I could have survived. This is a tale of how this young girl takes care of her drug and alcoholic parents, acts as caretaker of her sisters, lives in the wilderness, is bullied relentlessly and tries to make up for not being the son her father wanted yet preservers to become all she undertakes (again, not to mention one of my favorite authors). If you liked The Glass Castle (even if you didn't) I really recommend reading Freckled. You won't be sorry.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Davis

    Memoirs aren't my usual go-to reading choice, but this opportunity to learn more about a successful author's background was not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging tale of overcoming childhood and experiencing Hawaii through Toby's childhood eyes to find out where her deep-rooted love of the islands began.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antanas Bernikas

    I am not a fan of biographies in general but as I am a big fan of Toby Neal books - I was very excited to read her story. Also was fortunate to receive an ARC. Hawaii for me was and still is something out of a fantasy (I have never been there even though have lived in the U.S. for some time but would surely like to visit one day). Also hippie lifestyle is something that I have only seen in movies and documentaries. Story itself I did enjoy as both the documentary of those unique times and as qui I am not a fan of biographies in general but as I am a big fan of Toby Neal books - I was very excited to read her story. Also was fortunate to receive an ARC. Hawaii for me was and still is something out of a fantasy (I have never been there even though have lived in the U.S. for some time but would surely like to visit one day). Also hippie lifestyle is something that I have only seen in movies and documentaries. Story itself I did enjoy as both the documentary of those unique times and as quite a rollercoaster of human drama with many "downs" and thankfully some significant "ups" as the story draws to a conclusion. It is very emotional and I feel I understand Toby Neal style of writing and her characters much better now that I have read this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Barber

    I just finished my ARC copy and wow. This book brought me into the story on the first line. Toby has a way with writing that makes you feel emotions. I could see the young girl living in a place and time not a lot of people could survive. The what I call "struggles of love" the family had to go through. How many years this very vibrant girl pulled herself up and gave the world everything she could. Parents sometimes don't know how to be parents. They suck at it. But somewhere along the way they I just finished my ARC copy and wow. This book brought me into the story on the first line. Toby has a way with writing that makes you feel emotions. I could see the young girl living in a place and time not a lot of people could survive. The what I call "struggles of love" the family had to go through. How many years this very vibrant girl pulled herself up and gave the world everything she could. Parents sometimes don't know how to be parents. They suck at it. But somewhere along the way they help you resize things that help you become the person you are suppose to be. You can love someone with all your heart but you don't have to like them. Toby not only had to raise herself but also her younger sisters. You can see the bond grow different but strong between each one. To try and fit in is sometimes the loneliest thing in the world. I could relate to being different and not fitting in. Kids are sometimes the biggest bullies of them all. They don't have as many filters as a adult and so they don't know how far under the skin they get. There is a lot of funny stories to. Toby's horse had me laughing out loud. I never get tired of hearing stories about the past and how people lived. The history in this book about the islands are just as interesting as the story. When I seen Mike's name I knew it was time for some happy endings. I am in awe as to how this book turned out. How all the feelings came through. You most deferentially will need to grab a box of tissues right from the beginning. Merged review: I just finished my ARC copy and wow. This book brought me into the story on the first line. Toby has a way with writing that makes you feel emotions. I could see the young girl living in a place and time not a lot of people could survive. The what I call "struggles of love" the family had to go through. How many years this very vibrant girl pulled herself up and gave the world everything she could. Parents sometimes don't know how to be parents. They suck at it. But somewhere along the way they help you resize things that help you become the person you are suppose to be. You can love someone with all your heart but you don't have to like them. Toby not only had to raise herself but also her younger sisters. You can see the bond grow different but strong between each one. To try and fit in is sometimes the loneliest thing in the world. I could relate to being different and not fitting in. Kids are sometimes the biggest bullies of them all. They don't have as many filters as a adult and so they don't know how far under the skin they get. There is a lot of funny stories to. Toby's horse had me laughing out loud. I never get tired of hearing stories about the past and how people lived. The history in this book about the islands are just as interesting as the story. When I seen Mike's name I knew it was time for some happy endings. I am in awe as to how this book turned out. How all the feelings came through. You most deferentially will need to grab a box of tissues right from the beginning.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    It is said that behind every good writer is a sad little childhood. Toby Neal’s memoir proves the point. She had the kind of childhood that either makes you strong her kills you. Her hippie parents chose to live in substandard conditions in the backwaters of the gorgeous Island of Kauai so they could surf, smoke dope and drink with abandon. That is fine, but to bring children into this quagmire is unconscionable in my opinion. Clearly Toby needs to try to understand and forgive them to be whole, It is said that behind every good writer is a sad little childhood. Toby Neal’s memoir proves the point. She had the kind of childhood that either makes you strong her kills you. Her hippie parents chose to live in substandard conditions in the backwaters of the gorgeous Island of Kauai so they could surf, smoke dope and drink with abandon. That is fine, but to bring children into this quagmire is unconscionable in my opinion. Clearly Toby needs to try to understand and forgive them to be whole, but I don’t. To bring a third and fourth child into the world when you are essentially homeless is irresponsible and negligent. Still, I enjoyed this journey back in time because I was living on the North Shore when she was twelve and the notorious Taylor camp was alive and well. I too was seduced by the beauty of what was a paradise mostly hidden from the tourist traffic. I really enjoyed being there again and being in places that assuaged my tropical fantasies. I saw the troubles brewing between the locals and haole invaders and the limited opportunities on Kauai and returned to the mainland. Toby is one in a million, bright and strong enough to overcome her circumstances, but most children would have been crushed and severely psychologically damaged by the conditions she describes. Books and authors became her escape route from the abuses she suffered and she has become one of the most prolific writers I know. I have read many of her 30 fiction mystery stories set in the Islands and enjoyed them, but this is by far her best effort. I will give the writing 5-stars, but I felt much like I did after reading Jennette Walls best-selling memoir Glass Castle-disgusted with parents who have no business bringing children into the world.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Fans of The Glass Castle will love this book. Toby is real and honest about her family dysfunctions and strengths when growing up in Kauai, Hawaii in the 1970s. I read this on my way to Kauai on my way to Kauai for vacation and gained an appreciation of a wilder Kauai from that time. Fans of The Glass Castle will love this book. Toby is real and honest about her family dysfunctions and strengths when growing up in Kauai, Hawaii in the 1970s. I read this on my way to Kauai on my way to Kauai for vacation and gained an appreciation of a wilder Kauai from that time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    BJ

    I was given an advance copy of this book by the author. Here are just a few of my feelings and thoughts: This story really got to me on a personal level. My family, with 3 daughters right at Toby’s age, moved to Hawaii in 1968, so our life paralleled hers in many ways. We knew how it felt to be in the minority, something I’ve been truly grateful for as we’ve lived the rest of our lives. Although we didn’t go through the bullying and hardships as Ms. Neal did, her story brought back memories of wh I was given an advance copy of this book by the author. Here are just a few of my feelings and thoughts: This story really got to me on a personal level. My family, with 3 daughters right at Toby’s age, moved to Hawaii in 1968, so our life paralleled hers in many ways. We knew how it felt to be in the minority, something I’ve been truly grateful for as we’ve lived the rest of our lives. Although we didn’t go through the bullying and hardships as Ms. Neal did, her story brought back memories of what it means to be a part of the Hawai’ian culture – on many levels. I know some parts of this story were hard for Toby to write about, but I can only think it was a sort of cleansing exercise for her. She writes about some things that I would hesitate to even put in a personal journal, but has tenderly and vividly put out there for us, as readers, can certainly reflect on and learn from the lessons that life has given us. Her life story is full of strength, conviction in believing oneself, making dreams come true. I’m in awe at her determination to rise above a situation that many would find impossible, to continue to be her best self, and to put it all out into the world, for everyone to see. NO! For everyone to learn from, to draw on our own strengths, to continue to believe in ourselves. Thank you, Toby Neal!

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Crow

    Freckled is a beautifully told memoir about a girl and her sisters growing up with highly irresponsible hippie parents. Toby and her sisters had to raise themselves in a beautiful but often hostile place where food was scarce and the Hawaiian children were cruel to them to the point of horror. As a child who also grew up having to raise myself in a hostile environment, I turned to reading and physical activity and the mercy of adults who went out of their way to help me. I called them angels and Freckled is a beautifully told memoir about a girl and her sisters growing up with highly irresponsible hippie parents. Toby and her sisters had to raise themselves in a beautiful but often hostile place where food was scarce and the Hawaiian children were cruel to them to the point of horror. As a child who also grew up having to raise myself in a hostile environment, I turned to reading and physical activity and the mercy of adults who went out of their way to help me. I called them angels and think Toby would say the same. She eventually turned these hostiles into friends and excelled in school far beyond what most of us could have possibly achieved. She tells her story without malice or guile and found a way to love parents who were not parents at all. That Toby and her sisters all ended up not only all right, but in strong, loving adult families full of achievement is a testament to their strong character, intellect and self-reliance. This is a wonderful, uplifting story that could have turned out very differently. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Toby Neal's memoir, Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii, is engaging, poignant, enlightening, and entertaining. It also explains how she is able to create characters with such depth and convincing backstories. One always thinks of Hawaii as a paradise, but even a paradise can be a painful place to be with under-employed and over-stimulated parents trying to survive as poor outsiders (haoles) to the native peoples. Toby's life story from age 3 to 18 is, at times, inspiring, sad, funny, Toby Neal's memoir, Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii, is engaging, poignant, enlightening, and entertaining. It also explains how she is able to create characters with such depth and convincing backstories. One always thinks of Hawaii as a paradise, but even a paradise can be a painful place to be with under-employed and over-stimulated parents trying to survive as poor outsiders (haoles) to the native peoples. Toby's life story from age 3 to 18 is, at times, inspiring, sad, funny, encouraging, frightening, and always a reflection of a child who is a little bit larger than life, and how difficult that can be when growing up. (I encourage you to have a box of tissues handy. You might just need them.) I highly recommend this book as a stand-alone read. If you are unfamiliar with Toby's fiction, this should spur you into sampling her work. Toby is an excellent writer of fiction and with this foray into non-fiction, we learn she is equally good at it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Davis

    What an awe inspiring book. The trials that Toby survived and had to overcome is just amazing. The story of surviving not only her parents addiction to drugs and alcohol but also the addiction to surfing and living in the area of Hawaii as a non-native is just so heartening and uplifting! Being a “freckled” person in the area they lived in also added to Toby’s anguish. The fact that Toby has survived and become such a great person is not surprising as the stubbornness and intelligence Toby had f What an awe inspiring book. The trials that Toby survived and had to overcome is just amazing. The story of surviving not only her parents addiction to drugs and alcohol but also the addiction to surfing and living in the area of Hawaii as a non-native is just so heartening and uplifting! Being a “freckled” person in the area they lived in also added to Toby’s anguish. The fact that Toby has survived and become such a great person is not surprising as the stubbornness and intelligence Toby had from the beginning was the foundation she built her life on. Loved reading about the different areas of Hawaii and the ways that people lived and survived the life they lead in the different areas. The descriptions of the areas sucked me in from the start. The bond between Toby and her sisters made me think of my own sisters. The fact that I got angry, cried and laughed while reading the book is in tribute to Toby and her style of writing! Loved every page and picture in this book!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christine C

    This book could be Toby Neal's best ever. It is such a powerful, engrossing story of growing up out of the mainstream on a remote Hawaiian island. It is amazing that she survived her childhood, much less growing into the successful adult she is now. An excerpt from my blog post on this book: "Through it all, though, the book is an illustration of perseverance and determination. Toby realized that she had to rely on herself to get what she needed, from harvesting hallucinogenic mushrooms for the This book could be Toby Neal's best ever. It is such a powerful, engrossing story of growing up out of the mainstream on a remote Hawaiian island. It is amazing that she survived her childhood, much less growing into the successful adult she is now. An excerpt from my blog post on this book: "Through it all, though, the book is an illustration of perseverance and determination. Toby realized that she had to rely on herself to get what she needed, from harvesting hallucinogenic mushrooms for the local drug dealer and babysitting for extra money to save up for her own horse, to enrolling herself in school and being determined to succeed in order to get college scholarships and make something of herself." This story is shocking, touching, heartbreaking, and overall inspiring. A definite must-read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Schmidt

    I am a big fan of Toby's so when I was asked if I wanted an ARC of her memoir, I was excited to read it. I am not a big fan of Memoirs but I instantlly fell in love with this one. Thank you Toby for allowing me to feel what you felt growing up. I am so glad that I had a box of Tissues next to me while I was reading . I laughed so hard I cried and Then I cried so hard I laughed at myself. It's funny to me how our lives are so different yet so similar at the same time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Toby Neal tells a gipping tale of growing up in less than ideal circumstances. The eldest daughter of parents troubled by substance abuse issues, she had both experiences and responsibilities imposed on her at a very young age. Through it all, she showed a resiliency and a fortitude most people never achieve. This beautiful memoir, told in the first-person voice of the child being recalled, tears at your heart and keeps you cheering for Ms. Neal.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    This story is a true gift from one of the bravest most amazing women I know. Freckled is an emotional rollercoaster brought to life through Toby's wonderful words, I really can't convey enough how much reading this amazing story has meant to me, thanks Toby for putting your heart and soul onto the pages for us all to read. A magical, devastating trail of survival, angst, spirit and strength.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    I found this book to be very engaging except for a wee bit in the middle that dragged a bit for me. The author's description of Kauai in the 1970's was beautiful. This was when the natural terrain was untampered by tourism. Not so beautiful was the parenting done by Toby's parents. Addicted to the surf and drugs, they did not assure that their daughters' basic needs were met. If they had to eat boiled chicken feed, so be it. If they had to live in a ratty van or a leaky tent, so be it. Every tim I found this book to be very engaging except for a wee bit in the middle that dragged a bit for me. The author's description of Kauai in the 1970's was beautiful. This was when the natural terrain was untampered by tourism. Not so beautiful was the parenting done by Toby's parents. Addicted to the surf and drugs, they did not assure that their daughters' basic needs were met. If they had to eat boiled chicken feed, so be it. If they had to live in a ratty van or a leaky tent, so be it. Every time they had a family "confab" it was usually time for yet another move. Dad hated to work and contaminated their lives with his gloomy moods and physical abuse. Toby's family in CA tried to help throughout the years but they were hard to help. Mom kept going back to a dad who was a hardcore narcissist and an island that seemed to have a magnetic pull on their souls. Toby had to care for her sisters when she still needed care herself. The bullying she endured as a red-headed haole was unfathomable to most of us. Yet, through it all, she held books and learning close to her heart. This allowed her to forge a new path for her adult life. The end of this book is simply lovely. One thing that Toby learned when she was babysitting and did the dishes and vacuumed: "Find a way to add value to whatever you do and people will keep coming back." A favorite sentence: "I stomp off into the rose garden to nurse my snit." Oh man, haven't we all nursed a snit or two in our day?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Warren

    A Classic Example of What a Memoir should be A memoir is one of the hardest genres to write, especially if most of the characters in the book are still alive. As the author you only have a thin line to walk between not stepping on people’s toes and telling a truthful and unflattering story. With every word you are aware that it’s just your perspective and possibly not what the other people involved have experienced. Apart from that, you are confronting yourself with your own life, its many hards A Classic Example of What a Memoir should be A memoir is one of the hardest genres to write, especially if most of the characters in the book are still alive. As the author you only have a thin line to walk between not stepping on people’s toes and telling a truthful and unflattering story. With every word you are aware that it’s just your perspective and possibly not what the other people involved have experienced. Apart from that, you are confronting yourself with your own life, its many hardships and its few triumphs. This is not a genre for the weak at heart. With Freckled Toby Neal has shown that she holds the Master Pen. What I admire most in Freckled is how Toby expands from writing through the eyes of a four-year-old to that of a young adult. It requires a many-layered skill to be able to write with such precision and I’m in absolute awe of her mastery. I wholeheartedly believe Freckled belongs in the category of sublime literary non-fiction. It’s a unique book, about a unique place, in a unique time, written by a unique woman. Freckled ties you to the page: it opens your eyes to the green lush, the golden beaches and the Surfers Paradise in Hawaii in the 1960s and 70s and then it does no less than totally break your heart. Here is a girl in Paradise who’s dealt a crappy hand of cards: no stability, constant moving, responsibility way beyond her age, child labour, lack of schooling, and emotional and physical neglect. Although there are sparks of love, she basically lacks everything that every child should have a right to. But this resilient, headstrong girl is never a loser, she’s made of the stuff of real heroines. You feel yourself cheering her on on every page and hoping she will be able to create her life in her rebellion to be normal? Will she reach her goal? You’d better find out the answer to that yourself by reading Freckled. I highly recommend Toby Neal’s Freckled to everyone but especially to people who are struggling in their lives right now and who need a beacon of hope. They will find just that in this heart-touching memoir.

  19. 4 out of 5

    diane stefon

    If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, this is a must read. The afterword by John Wehrheim was very interesting along with the photos of the camp in the interactive map. Definitely a must read

  20. 4 out of 5

    Judy Baker

    Outstanding book I take my hat off to Toby....you endured so much,and still you loved your family...it broke my heart the way your father treated you and I was finally glad when your mom ecognized his anger towards his children. Toby you were smart and strong that is what saved you..you were so brave to move to CA to finish your education and go to college...I was so happy for you...so proud of you that you had a goal and stayed focused. I loved your book and I am so happy for you and your sibling Outstanding book I take my hat off to Toby....you endured so much,and still you loved your family...it broke my heart the way your father treated you and I was finally glad when your mom ecognized his anger towards his children. Toby you were smart and strong that is what saved you..you were so brave to move to CA to finish your education and go to college...I was so happy for you...so proud of you that you had a goal and stayed focused. I loved your book and I am so happy for you and your siblings...you all survived!!!! I will read some of your other books now..thank you for writing such a poignant story of your life..

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Reading about Toby’s chaotic childhood with hippy parents who keep bouncing their family around as they keep adding daughters to the brood in 1960’s-70’s Hawaii and California gives us a rare glimpse into this time period on Kauai. Tobi overcomes many obstacles despite the instability in her life. She learns the hard lessons of life in a very dysfunctional family swinging between extreme poverty and wealth. Toby struggles with alcoholic self-centered parents drawn to the surfing life on Kauai, w Reading about Toby’s chaotic childhood with hippy parents who keep bouncing their family around as they keep adding daughters to the brood in 1960’s-70’s Hawaii and California gives us a rare glimpse into this time period on Kauai. Tobi overcomes many obstacles despite the instability in her life. She learns the hard lessons of life in a very dysfunctional family swinging between extreme poverty and wealth. Toby struggles with alcoholic self-centered parents drawn to the surfing life on Kauai, with bullies on a racially divided island, with educating herself, with plain survival, and with the ups and downs of growing up as the oldest, responsible kid. Toby shows grit and resilience. This a memoir told in present tense from the point of view of the growing girl. Excellent approach to telling the story. Memorable, compelling, eye-opening and full of love as well as tears and frustration. Highly recommend it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer Dawson

    Painfully poignant Finally..a story that kept me coming back for more...what was the next stage of her life going to bring ....I never got bored and was drawn into her moods and emotions.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Excellent memoir This is a fun and fast read! Reminds me of the “A Girl Called Zippy” books more than “The Glass Castle.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Impellezzeri

    if you like educated you will love this one

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Toby Neal is one of my favorite authors, and I've read everything she's written. I was looking forward to this memoir with great anticipation, and having just finished it, found that it fulfilled all my expectations and more. The hallmarks of Neal's writing are her extraordinary storytelling skills - she's the kind of author whose books you can't put down - enhanced by her ability to add compelling details of place, time, and emotion. This book is so extraordinarily rich in detail, I marveled at Toby Neal is one of my favorite authors, and I've read everything she's written. I was looking forward to this memoir with great anticipation, and having just finished it, found that it fulfilled all my expectations and more. The hallmarks of Neal's writing are her extraordinary storytelling skills - she's the kind of author whose books you can't put down - enhanced by her ability to add compelling details of place, time, and emotion. This book is so extraordinarily rich in detail, I marveled at how Neal remembered so much from her childhood. I was transported to Kaua'i and California with Neal, and felt all of the emotions of her childhood right along with her. I took three days to read the book and dreamed about the book every night. Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the difficulties and traumas that Neal endured growing up. Neal's unique and often difficult upbringing could have resulted in a depressing or even self-pitying memoir, but Neal completely avoids that by telling her story from her point of view at various ages. This lets us see how she experienced it from a child's eyes, and makes the story even more compelling. I rooted hard for her as she fought her way through so many difficult situations. It probably helped that I experienced some of the same issues she did - being the victim of serious bullying, not fitting in with my family, being in a family of all girls when my father desperately wanted boys, etc. But I think many people would find something in common with Neal's experiences because she writes about familial issues that so many people face. This is a memoir that touches the spirit and, despite all the upheaval and challenges Neal faced, is uplifting and inspirational.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Hudson

    EMOTIONALLY MOVING I’ve been a fan of TW (Toby) Neal’s since her first Lei Crime Series Book was published. I’ve known she was happily married, mother of two grown children a Licensed Therapist and had grown up in Hawaii. Now that I have read her memoir, FRECKLED, I have a totally new respect for this talented author. I’ve read plenty of memoirs because I like to know the backstory. I have to say, this was not an easy read for me. I’m a few years older than Toby and had the opportunity to visit H EMOTIONALLY MOVING I’ve been a fan of TW (Toby) Neal’s since her first Lei Crime Series Book was published. I’ve known she was happily married, mother of two grown children a Licensed Therapist and had grown up in Hawaii. Now that I have read her memoir, FRECKLED, I have a totally new respect for this talented author. I’ve read plenty of memoirs because I like to know the backstory. I have to say, this was not an easy read for me. I’m a few years older than Toby and had the opportunity to visit Hawaii during a period of time she wrote about. I couldn’t help but contrast my childhood/teenage years with hers. I have to say they were as totally opposite as could be possible! Neal writes with such honesty and clarity and provides her readers an opportunity to feel as though they are reliving her life with her. She is an amazing, resilient, goal oriented, spectacular woman who has overcome immense odds to achieve all the goals that she set as a young child/early teen. I think it’s very telling that in spite of all the struggles her family went through, READING was always a PRIORITY and her Mom read to her often and as soon as she could read, made sure she NEVER went without books! What an incredible gift! I believe if you can read & read well, you can do anything! Toby Neal should have been the Poster Child for Reading as a young child/teenager! Also, it helped foster her imagination and allowed her to become the gifted author that she is today. I was provided an ARC of this novel by the author. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandie

    When you find that one of your favourite authors has a new book - you get excited. When you discover that it's her biography - you REALLY get excited. TW Neal (aka Toby Neal) was brought up by her hippie parents between the island of Kauai and her grandparents homes in California. Two extremes of society which led to her feelings of frustration. Her over-riding need was to feel accepted - by her friends and family. But sticking out by being a red-haired haole (non-native) led to bullying and abus When you find that one of your favourite authors has a new book - you get excited. When you discover that it's her biography - you REALLY get excited. TW Neal (aka Toby Neal) was brought up by her hippie parents between the island of Kauai and her grandparents homes in California. Two extremes of society which led to her feelings of frustration. Her over-riding need was to feel accepted - by her friends and family. But sticking out by being a red-haired haole (non-native) led to bullying and abuse from the close-knit communities of Kauai. When her parents couldn't cope, they moved to California, where Toby discovered the things people on the mainland take for granted - flush toilets, a roof which doesn't leak and plentiful food - all things which were missing from their life on the island. Her desire to make something of her life made Toby realise that in order to achieve her potential she had to have a good education. And her single desire to read and retain knowledge led her down a path which often caused aggravation at home. As a finale, we see Toby Neal as she is today - a successful therapist, happily married to her longtime love, with a grown family of her own. Her triumph over the odds is a story to be celebrated; her autobiographical book is as much a success as her novels. I was given an ARC to review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    4.5 stars Freckled is the story of T.W. Neal's life growing up wild and un-tethered in various underdeveloped parts of Hawaii. After years of "camping" for, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, Neal finds herself yearning for a more traditional life and parents who are grounded and who care. However, her parents are addicted to many things; Kauai’s beauty and counterculture community, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules, but sadly the one thing they are not ad 4.5 stars Freckled is the story of T.W. Neal's life growing up wild and un-tethered in various underdeveloped parts of Hawaii. After years of "camping" for, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, Neal finds herself yearning for a more traditional life and parents who are grounded and who care. However, her parents are addicted to many things; Kauai’s beauty and counterculture community, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules, but sadly the one thing they are not addicted to is providing a safe and nurturing childhood for their children. What's most amazing about this book is Neal's ability to not only survive, but thrive and be a part of a solid and successful marriage and career.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Turner

    Toby's story of her childhood and growing up in the wilds of Hawaii kept me turning the pages. Well written. Great story teller. Kept everything simple. Raised by hippie surfer parents who just wanted to ride the waves, get high and keep a low profile, Toby manages to live to tell the tale from the eyes of a child yet in a way that is not too simple for an adult to read. I found her story riveting and, many times, heart wrenching. Probably would give it 4 1/2...so gave it a 5 star rating.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Chwazik-Gee

    Every time I opened this memoir, I felt like I was diving straight off the page into Hawaii. Toby’s sense of place and self were so strong that I felt like I was a part of her life and upbringing, even though her experiences were so foreign to my own. I felt her sorrow when she was bullied and her respite when she was in the ocean away from her worries. What a great read - I highly recommend!

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