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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2018 Toby Neal 2018 (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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What listeners say about Freckled

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Zero to Hero

This book, for the first few chapters, was a difficult listen because of the abuse and neglect levied on the children by parents too consumed by surfing and marijuana. I almost stopped midway because I was upset at the parents’ selfishness. But by then, I had taken a deep interest and concern in Toby’s growth and development in her abusive home and growing up in Kauai. I admire her strength and grit. I’m not a haole, but I remember some of the cruelty of the locals to haole children. I recommend this book, especially having grown up mostly in Hawaii, because it helps me to see and sympathize with the unique challenges of growing up in Hawaii with fair skin. I recommend this book because of Toby’s triumphs in spite of the immense odds she faced. Lastly, I recommend this book because the reader tells the story from a connected, personal level with empathy running deep. And that was another huge reason I kept listening when I wanted to stop halfway through. She told Toby’s story, not just read the book. Congrats to both author and reader on a job well done.

8 people found this helpful

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wish I could return this audible

I've been reading this on my Kindle and upgraded to Audible, so I could continue it while doing things like cleaning and driving etc.... HOWEVER, I will be going right back to only reading and not listening because I canNOT handle the narrator. AT. ALL. This book is a memoir/autobiography, but the narrator reads it like it's super depressing fiction. Splendid that she's got the talent/range to read as a super depressive adult as well as a squealing 7-year-old, but this particular work seems not the place for all the voices. I have to believe that if the author were the narrator, she'd not read it nearly as obnoxiously. If Audible would allow me to return it, I ABSOLUTELY would. I'm only on chapter 10 and am going back to reading it digitally and doing my best to forget the narrator's voice, so the rest of this book isn't completely ruined.

4 people found this helpful

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HORRIBLE NARRATION

The book itself is great. I’m going to have to buy it and read it myself. I could not get past the first chapter because the narrator sounds like a cross between Google Translator and a speak and spell followed by RANDOM voice changes for dialog that sound like they were recorded separate. Completely interrupts the flow of the book. Listening to it was like nails on a chalk board.

3 people found this helpful

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So Many Feels!!!

I loved reading Freckled, what a great story but I loved listening to it even more! The narrator did an amazing job with the voices. The dialogue was seamless and I found myself lingering in the car to hear more. Kudos! If you love the memoir genre and you love audio books you will not be disappointed!

3 people found this helpful

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Narration problem

The woman performing this audiobook has an annoying speech problem, namely, beginning many words with the syllable ah. For example, during at least half the book, I thought the writer’s sister’s was named Abonnie, rather than her real name of Bonnie. This problem was so prevalent, I misunderstood enough words that I often had to rewind and listen to the sentence a second time. Even though I figured it out, this problem became more than a little annoying by the end of the book.

2 people found this helpful

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Determined to Survive

Toby tells her story of surviving a childhood with parents that are addicted to their own happiness that happen to have children. They become collateral damage in their parents pursuit for a responsible free life. they love their children but cannot maintain a supportive environment. Toby and her sisters learn to count on their own abilities to survive in Hawaii with people that see them as outsiders. Toby sees her only way out is to get into a good high school and follow her dream of providing for her own basic needs. in pursuit of her dream there are many roadblocks as her father falls into addiction and becomes unpredictable. her mother is unable to make choices that put the girls first. what follows is a story of self determination and survival. I couldn't stop reading !

2 people found this helpful

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Best Memoir of 2020!!

Wow! I cried, I felt empathy and I felt joy and was so very proud at the outcome! It was as if I had a family connection to Toby, although I do not. I've been reading her books since the first Lei Crime novel, and because I've lived on and spent a lot of time in Hawaii; it has always been just like being there whenever I've read one of her books. This one however; was different in so many ways. Having corresponded with her (years ago, it's not like we're friends :)), I would never have imagined this was the life she had lived. I was aware that she grew up in Hawaii and we had marginally discussed that she had spent some time on the North Shore of Oahu, mostly because that is one of my favorite spots. But I didn't "hear" any sadness or bitterness in the emails we exchanged. This memoir is raw, real, sad, joyful and painful all at the same time. I can now see where some of her Leigh Crime storylines may have originated. If you love her books or have never read her books; if you enjoy memoirs or even if you don't; this one YOU MUST READ. Her life story so far is spellbinding, mesmerizing and so telling. It may make you realize that the life you have lived isn't so bad after all. It may also bring you to understand what the "Phoenix rising from the ashes" really means. Toby, you have outdone yourself!! I'm proud to say I am one of your fans.

2 people found this helpful

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Insight into Hawaii in the 60's and 70's

This book had me hooked from the beginning. I loved the narrator's voice and although I didn't grow up poor and my parents were attentive....I could relate to many of her experiences....bullying, reading as a refuge, running wild in the out of doors, Collectively, my children and I have spent many years in Hawaii and the descriptions of the trails and the beauty and even the experiences with the locals was familiar. Hawaii is complicated and beautiful and dear to my soul.....and the author brought all this to the light.

2 people found this helpful

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great listen

very engaging and more meaningful since I spent my early years in Hawaii with several disruptive moves to finally land on the mainland along with a mother who wasn't fully on- board with 'parenting.'

2 people found this helpful

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Sensory overload

Sensory overload of Hawaii and growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. I could hear the surf, feel the rain, smell the anxiety.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Fred
  • 10-29-19

The voice of the narrator is important.

This audio book took some time to get used to, and it wasn't the story but the voice. I didn't like how the narrator made the different voices. It is a real shame, because the story was good.