A Stranger to Myself
By Judy Frothinger
Create Space, Scotts Valley, California, 2010, 325 pages, softcover.
Spice of Life - Living the German Russian Culture Blog
Who says you can’t go home? Who says you can’t forgive, come to peace with the past, and move forward? Is it possible to discover who you really are and find true love? A Stranger to Myself addresses these universal questions. We are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of our parents.
Set in a small rural community in 1957, my story is about a young woman who returns home after her relationship with a married man goes sour. Marka is convinced Ridley is where she belongs—though its inhabitants are eccentric characters obsessed with the space race and the Cold War. Marka spends a year of turmoil under the watchful eye of her spinster aunt, a culturally bound, German Russian. Life quickly becomes muddled with romantic predicaments and confusion over Marka's value as a person. To add to her dilemma, during the flight from Denver, she sat next to a woman and "told all." This stranger neglects to mention that she has moved to Ridley during Marka’s absence; she makes Marka’s life miserable.
A Stranger to Myself, a penetrating story about a young woman’s struggle to understand herself, will bring you to tears as you read about: shame, secrets, and forgiveness. It imparts wisdom without being preachy. It takes you into the thoughts and feelings of a woman coming to terms with her addictions.
My personal journey as an adult child of an alcoholic, a German Russian raised in a small town, gives me unique insight to write this novel. An education in psychology and Twelve Step work provides me the background to probe deep into the psyche of these unforgettable characters.
"I thoroughly enjoyed it, every page. Your story of the main character’s problems of growing up, resolving feelings of her ancestry and untimely deaths, kept things flowing. You worked in all the details of the language and the customs. Even though it is your fictionalized ethnic story, it is still a story many of us felt growing up. In other words your story speaks to all, in a far wider audience than just German Russians. A job well done." (MF - AHSGR)
"The first chapter put me back in South Dakota. My grandparents were children of German immigrants, so I smiled at the same German words used by them and my mother from time to time. It’s a moving piece of work. I found that I connected with it on many levels. I can see parallels in the story with my years growing up. It brought back many memories of my own family, my experiences, and the small town cast of characters. And yes, I even have to admit to shedding a tear. I guess a Renaissance man such as myself doesn’t find any shame in that. You packed a lot of things that stir ones emotions into that one novel." (GM - Pennsylvania)
"It brought me to tears. I could relate to the things German Russian because that is my culture. I hadn’t thought of those things in years." (SS – Mt. Shasta, CA)
"I love how you ease us into our past – the description of washing clothes with the wringer washer and fingers freezing while hanging them on the clothes line. Truly a simple distinction of "who we were then and who we are now" and helping us to remember how hard our immigrant parents worked in order to care for us and the admission that all their choices were not always the best." (MF – Oakland, CA)
"I grew up in Minnesota and your book brought back many memories of living on a farm in a small rural community. I enjoyed it very much." (AB – Algonquin Roundtable)