‘Jewish Girls Gone Wild’

From Skokie to Scottsdale: New memoir of an unconventional childhood

Jewish Girls Gone Wild cover image

Author, writing instructor, and editor Linda Pressman has "always thought of my life as a story." Nine years after drawing from her "metaphorical file cabinet of stories" to publish her first book, she now brings readers back to her larger-than-life adolescence in Jewish Girls Gone Wild: A Memoir of Skokie, Scottsdale & the Seventies. 

The book picks up at the close of her first book, Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors, and Skokie-where Pressman piles into a car with her six sisters and her parents, both Holocaust survivors-to move from Skokie to Scottsdale, Ariz.. 

She details the transition from a close-knit neighborhood filled with family and friends around the corner to an "alien world" full of cacti, pickup trucks, and churches-and devoid of other Jews. 

"I had these Chicago eyes that I brought to Arizona, so everything looked very strange to me," said Pressman, who struggled to find a place at her new middle school. "I thought I could never fit in because if riding a horse to school is normal, I'm always going to stick out." 

Pressman also recalled complicated family dynamics including watching her father change both himself and the family business to better fit their new environment. Then, Pressman's teenage world is shattered when her father suddenly dies-leading to "a part about me raising my mom and my mom raising me," she said. "We became this wild family of single women, and we struggled. I managed to find my place, but it was difficult." 

As time went on, Pressman and her mother began dating at the same time, sharing successes, failures, and embarrassments along the way. Her mother, who had not dated since she was in a displaced persons camp in Germany in 1951, found herself single in 1975-and fell into a brief career in a multi-level marketing company selling slimming shakes before finding a successful job as a real estate agent. 

"As a writer and a child of Holocaust survivors, one of my favorite things to do is to talk about their life after the war," Pressman said-and in the remainder of the book, she spends a good deal of time delving into her mother's growth and her father's legacy. 

"There has been a tremendous amount of attention to stories during the war and how they survived, but I was a witness to an amazing transformation of my parents to a suburban couple in Skokie and then however they could camouflage themselves in Arizona," said Pressman. 

Here, the Jewish element of the book is reintroduced-after a year and a half in Arizona with almost no other Jews, it was difficult to remember the "dos" of Judaism in addition to the "don'ts" in the period of mourning and beyond. Pressman ended up re-establishing her Jewish connection years later when she started spending her summers with family back in Skokie. 

Nowadays, Pressman enjoys traveling between her two home cities.  

Pressman looks forward to sharing her "teenage years of swirling dust devils, brown mountains, people on horseback, and BoonDockers"-and through the "power of memoir," teach a powerful story about growing up and finding the true meaning of home. 

For more information, visit lindajpressman.com.  Jewish Girls Gone Wild is published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 

 


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