Book Review: A Year in the Company of Freaks by Teresa Neumann

I took one look at the book cover and I wondered what I would be reading? A hippy, sixties book about drugs and protesting?

Total surprise, the book is very different than what I thought! Yes, it is about hippies, but it is not all about drugs and protesting. The book is based in California and takes place in the seventies on a farm. The main character, Sid grew up on this farm, but left as soon as he could to attend Berkley University. His life changed and his perspectives changed. He got caught growing (or trying to grow) pot on this farm and he had a choice. Go to jail or live on this farm and be monitored by the town sheriff for a year. What would you choose?

While living on this farm he takes in a few borders to help with expenses. They are each different and come from different backgrounds. They help keep the book interesting! The book is worth reading-take a look!



Book Details:

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
Format available for review:  print & ebook (gifted Kindle copy)
Will ship print books to:  USA & Canada only
Tour dates: Sept 11 to 29, 2017
Content Rating: PG + M (Little violence and profanity, no f-words, no sex, but some drug use)

Book Description:

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.”

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

Teresa Neumann

About the Author:

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

Author Interview:

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing A Year in the Company of Freaks?

There were many, but crafting the language of my characters in this book, who came from totally different backgrounds, was especially difficult for me. Backstory: Years ago, I discovered some “love letters” from the 1970’s that I had written to my husband. My excitement fizzled immediately when I realized that the worst four-letter words dominated nearly every paragraph of every single letter. No way was I going to pass them on to my children, so I threw them all away! What a waste and what a wake-up call considering I’m so fortunate to be in possession of some precious love letters that my grandparents wrote to each other. The difference between theirs and mine was so painfully stark, I vowed then and there, to be a wordsmith who refused to use contemporary vulgarities.


Isn’t that impossible to do?

Nearly impossible, yes. But I told myself, “if Shakespeare and Dickens and Tolstoy and Hugo and Dumas and Hardy and Steinbeck could write powerful, timeless tales without using the “F” word, so could I. I occasionally use words like “damn” or “bastard” when appropriate, but I never use the “F” word – or other particularly offensive vulgarities.


Have you found an advantage in writing “clean?”

Definitely! A writing instructor once told our class (paraphrased): “If you’ve written a book that you can give your mother or grandmother to read, then you’ve failed as a writer. The more barriers you break, the more you offend, the more you will succeed.” I completely disagreed. I WANT mothers and grandmothers and daughters and granddaughters to read my books! Indeed, the success of my first two books is due, in part, to the fact that I write so that my novels can be shared with loved ones.


So, would you say A Year in the Company of Freaks would make a good Hallmark movie, then?

 Actually, apart from the subject matter – drugs – I suppose it might. It would depend on how it was interpreted. I know there are movies and television shows that have been highly successful with similar plots, like Last Man Standing, where the occupants of a house — who are totally different and very strong in their individual beliefs — somehow get along.



Speaking of beliefs, several of your main characters are people of faith – or have no faith at all – yet you treat them equally. Is there an underlying message there?

 I never set out to intentionally write a book with an underlying message, but all books (paintings, movies, works of art) convey a message whether intended or not. It’s impossible for an author’s heart not to be reflected in their writing. The fact is, faith, or a lack thereof, is a driving force in humanity. Always has been. To include that element of human nature in my books, I think, lends fullness and reality to the storyline. I treat the beliefs of my characters as fairly as possible because respecting the beliefs of others is the foundation of forming a viable relationship. It doesn’t mean characters with opposing viewpoints have to agree, or be friends, or even necessarily “get along.” But, respect for the right to differ in thought from each other is what enables the diverse cast of characters in Freaks to survive a year under the same roof. I began writing this book over a decade ago and am actually stunned how relevant that message is for today!



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