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Credit: Courtesy of Joshua Safran
My Mother the Witch, Family Secrets in Pilgrim's Wilderness, and More
July 03, 2014
Summary: two memoirs of unsual childhoods. First we meet a Wiccan love child who rebelled against his mother by becoming an Orthodox Jew. Then, the tale of the hellish, isolated world of the pious Pilgrim Family.
Credit: Courtesy of Joshua Safran
From Wiccan Love Child to Orthodox Jew July 03, 2014
Joshua Safran was born in 1975 into a coven of witches. That included his mother, who was determined to keep her son out of the mainstream and off the grid. He spent his early childhood as a nomad, living everywhere from communes to old vans. One day he discovered he was Jewish, and after years of wandering, he finally felt he had found a home. From October 2013.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Joshua Safran, author of Free Spirit: Growing up on the Road and Off the Grid
Credit: Blaine Harden
'Hillbilly Heaven': Hell on Earth July 03, 2014
The 15 children of the Pilgrim family grew up with only two books in the house, and one of them was the Bible. It was in the Bible that Papa Pilgrim, their cruel but charming father, found all the guidance he needed about how to run their lives. For him, it justified moving them all to the middle of Alaska to create a 'Hillbilly Heaven,' exacting frequent beatings (he called them "corrections"), and raping his eldest daughter for more than a decade. From November 2013.

Tom Kizzia, author of Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Watch a video of the drive into McCarthy, near where the Pilgrims lived.

Hear some songs from the family's 2004 CD, released under the name the Pilgrim Family Minstrels:

Credit: Riverhead Hardcover
Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers July 03, 2014
Yes, you really can boil it down to three. Celebrated author Anne Lamott talks about the universal human need to ask for guidance, express gratitude, and revel in awe. From November 2012.

Anne Lamott, author of Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers