Book Title: A Year in the Company of Freaks by Teresa Neumann
Category: Adult Fiction, 515 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: All's Well House
Release date: Dec 21, 2015
Tour dates: Sept 11 to 29, 2017
Content Rating: PG + M (Little violence and profanity, no f-words, no sex, but some drug use)
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."
I believe Teresa Neumann has another winner in this novel set in the recent past, 1972. The war in Vietnam is being fought, long-haired hippies abound, values and attitudes are changing and the drug culture is in full swing. It’s a ride down memory lane.
The protagonist, Sid, returns to his home in small-town California, Trinity Springs, sporting a ponytail, and a beard, after spending 4 years at Berkeley. All he wants at this point is to have a good time and travel. But when he is busted for growing pot on his deceased parents' farm, he has to decide whether to go to jail or spend one year in his parents' home, on probation, with boarders who are strangers to him – 5 absolute strangers thrown together for a year, each of them as different as chess pieces. And so enter Ketch, Mika, Woolf, and Liz – all freaks in their own way.
We learn a lot about Sid's happy life with his Italian mother and grandparents. We feel his sadness and angst over his parents' death made even more difficult by having to live in their house so full of memories for him. When his grandfather dies, a turning point occurs for Sid in his attitude and purpose in life. It is a beautiful thing to see Sid grow, gradually coping with his emotions, finally coming to grips with the past. He begins to understand others' views and they begin to understand his. Of course, there is a love interest for Sid. It's one of the things that allow him the healing process to begin.
Apart from Sid, my favourite characters are Otis and Pearlie who hail from Texas. Pearlie is kind-hearted, lovable, affectionate and emotional. Generous to a fault, she brings Sid homemade chocolate chip cookies in a Folgers's coffee can. Both Otis and Pearlie (Sid's godparents) love him, if not always understanding him.
I love the author's description of the house where Sid lives and grew up in, especially the 3-storey high library. I can imagine myself in that oasis.
There is an underlying Italian theme that I enjoyed. Sid (short for Siderno), Italian words from his grandmother, Nonna Antonia, and a funny saying of his mother's – "I suppose in many ways Texans are like Italians" are authentic. The author's two previous wonderful books have Italian themes and I wondered if and how she would work in into this novel. I wasn't disappointed.
I highly recommend this feel-good story. Not only is it an amazing story of healing and choices, but it also explores the nature of friendship, attraction and why we love who we do.
To read more reviews, please visit Teresa Neumann's page in iRead Book Tours.
Praise for A Year in the Company of Freaks:
“This coming of age story will draw the reader right in. Teresa Neumann demonstrates how much she values relationships in her writing … a precious skill. I held my breath all the way through to the final few pages. Five stars!” — The San Francisco Book Review
“As it relates to the complicated clash of culture and counterculture, Freaks acts as an authentic, strongly Seventies book. Northern California works as a strong presence in the novel that is vivid and omnipresent, but never overwhelming. Sure to intrigue and entertain, Freaks will have its digs in you before you realize how involved you’ve become.” — The Manhattan Book Review
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.
Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter