Freckled: a Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii - T W Neal

Freckled: a Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii

By T W Neal

  • Release Date: 2018-12-30
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 82 Ratings


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


  • Riveting and exposed for the world to see

    By ByFelicia
    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.
  • Inspiring

    By neachdreamer117
    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.
  • Growing up Hawaii

    By iammommaP
    Because I love Toby Neal I gave her memoirs a try. And what can say except that I will never be sorry. Some parts as I read I felt like I could have written it and well the water works started for me. (Tissues recommended). She takes us on a her journey from 3 to 18. Experiencing Hawaii from her POV was surprising considering my Hollywood inspired opinion of Hawaii. From raising siblings to susbatabce abuse by parents to bulling for being a haloes by the natives. What can I say other than I will be giving memoirs more of a chance in the future. Incredible informative read you won’t be sorry.
  • Not just any Memoir

    By Mommysmoose
    This book was fabulous even for those of you that don't usually read memoirs. I loved getting a firsthand look into the life of Toby Neal while she was growing up. I found it absolutely inspiring. Her courage, spunk and love of the outdoors made her into one of the best writers. I loved the glimpses into her childhood from her point of view. It gave me a better understanding of why she writes the way that she does. I think this book is as amazing as the author that wrote it. And I really think that you will love this book even if you aren't into memoirs. This book is as wonderfully written as all the other fictional books that she writes. You won't be disappointed if you read it. I know I wasn't.

    By LGHudson
    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.
  • Amazing

    By 1roseofsharon
    In her Memoir Freckled, Toby shares of her life growing up in the paradise of Kauai during the 70's. Being raised by hippie parents who were self centered and more concerned about their drugs and alcohol then their children's welfare, Toby had to grow up fast. Her responsibility to her sisters care and her focus on what she wanted to become, outweighed the neglect and weight put upon her shoulders by her parents. She overcame the bullying and physical abuse put on her, not only by her parents, but by the bigotry of the time and the local Hawaiians. Toby found her escape in the glorious beauty that surrounded her and in her books. All that Toby went through and overcame molded her into the amazing woman she is today. With her schooling and degree and becoming the therapist, author, wife, and mom. she has achieved and grabbed on to exactly what she wanted. Her artistic view on the island and description transports you right there. Toby has an amazing way of describing the beauty and the not so beautiful. I have loved all the fiction books that Toby has written, (and I have read every one of them), but this one took me over the top. I received this book as an ARC reader, but this heartfelt review is totally mine.
  • A memoir of a unique childhood and resiliency

    By Sister Blondie
    What an amazing story and what an amazing human who lived it! I am impressed by Toby’s vivid recollection of her childhood growing up in rural Hawaii in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Having lived in Hawaii during this time frame, it all rang very true for me and brought back many memories. Despite her parents’ lack of self awareness or responsibility to their growing family, Toby always kept her eye on the prize of what she wanted for her life. she did what she needed to do to achieve that, despite every obstacle put in her way. This story will stay with me for a very long time
  • An awe inspiring book!

    By Cheryl ARC 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 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!
  • A Uniquely Immersive Experience

    By Jamieelizabeth77
    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.

    By Ellen/Oceanside
    FRECKLED by Toby Neal This could come with a warning on the cover. We know of Toby the author, thru her books the thrills and adventure she gives us. Her life with Mike the pictures she shares of her surroundings. She seems to glow with life and love. This story of her upbringing is one of deep emotion, she did, she survived, would be appropriate. The joy of no clothes when swimming, the spankings were more than we as readers could handle. The sisters to come and share with. Finishing her senior years away from family. Her nickname ‘never enough girl’ her ambition and dreams as though they were bad. A book that gave us an inside look of a land she loves, the good and the bad she has shared with us. It was a hard journey to write this, a cleansing, and we thank Toby for sharing. Given ARC for my voluntary review and my honest opinion.