Just to put it into perspective, I didnít know this book was written by the guy whose wife said good shabbos to me several weeks ago in Oakland. There was no way to detect that the guy standing across the room at Kiddush, who could only be described as just normal, could have come from a childhood like the one I was reading. In fact, youíd think that sort of upbringing could only render an adult to a life behind bars. But I saw him, in a suit, sporting ďa rabbiís noseĒ.
Joshua Safran was raised by a doubtlessly well-meaning mother whose weaknesses include lack of discretion, poor judgment of character, and being willing to put up with entirely too much crap from men. He writes of their journey from San Francisco to an even hippy-er Utopia with a darkly comedic hand. The book begins with a little lighthearted humor such his sweet grandmotherís assessment of momís deadbeat boyfriend: ďAt first I thought he was a straight goniff. But this song and dance, he must be a shyster, waiting to pitch somethingĒ. However it quickly moves into darker days, when the height of his fantasies includes becoming sick enough to be checked into a hospital for the cough heís acquired while living under a tarp in the woods, and in the Pacific Northwest rain.
The most surprising thing about the book other than the fact that thereís an actual human being on the other end of it, telling a true story is the occasional reference to Safranís growing realization that in spite of being witness to some of the most disgusting human behaviors one can imagine, there exists a G-d. My only disappointment in the book was that it didnít go into his path towards the Torah more, but would instead make vague references to him feeling spiritual stirrings that would take him to the library to do research on the Jews and religion. Not that anyone that goes through that sort of thing would need any other reason to reach out for something, anything.
Bonus: Childhood photos, including one of Momís Egyptian occult wedding