Boy who sought refuge in Stanwood Library returns as successful author

Free Spirit book coverAuthor Joshua Safran, who as a child found shelter and identity at Stanwood Library, will speak at 7 p.m. June 25 at the Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center, 9612 271st St. NW.  

Safran will discuss his memoir, “Free Spirit: Growing Up on the Road and Off the Grid.” Following his talk, a reception and book signing will be held across the street at the library.  

Safran was born to a coven of lesbian witches in a Haight-Ashbury commune. He spent part of his formative years in northwest Washington. His book recounts his childhood hitchhiking, and surviving the elements and a violent alcoholic stepfather before finally finding his way to law school and becoming an Orthodox Jew.

In “Free Spirit,” he writes:

“The Stanwood Library opened its doors to me without question. The patient librarians didn't care about my frayed clothes and never questioned my determination to spend every waking hour under their roof. Mercifully warm and clean, the library was a shelter from the rain and the echoes of my mother screaming in the night. I washed my face in the clean white sink and took refuge in books about the Talmud, the Golem of Prague, and Israel.”

Joshua Safran headshotJoshua Safran

Publishers Weekly hailed “Free Spirit” as a “beautiful, powerful memoir . . .  reminiscent of David Sedaris’s and Augusten Burroughs’s best work: introspective, hilarious, and heartbreaking.”   

In his 2013 Huffington Post blog post, “My Library Card to Redemption,” Safran recaps how the library made a lasting impact on his life.

Safran is a nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and the wrongfully imprisoned. His seven-year legal odyssey to free an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence from prison was featured in the award-winning documentary film “Crime After Crime,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and on the Oprah Winfrey Network.