Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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Appreciation from Janet Kimberling
Thursday, 01 January 2015 13:42

I was fascinated with your book, and could not put it down. I read most of it in one evening. It is very sensitive, and so well written.

She comes out a better, more soulful human being in the end
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 20:59

By  George Geder (Santa Fe, NM) on Amazon November 21, 2014

‘Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood’, a memoir by Jeanne Simonoff belongs in every school library throughout the world. Every student who is struggling with identity and esteem issues should read this book.

Young Jeanne goes through loss, deceit, bigotry, intolerance, and being shaken by the words of her rabbi. Yet, she comes out a better, more soulful human being in the end.

In a poignant, lyrical and spiritual way, Ms. Simonoff’s words comfort and validate the tribulations that many of us went through in our growing up. You don’t need to be a girl, Jewish, from Los Angeles to get the message. You just need a heart, the gift of remembrance, and a love for humanity. Get this book.

Peace & Blessings,
"Guided by the Ancestors"

An excellent insight into the mind of a little girl
Thursday, 19 September 2013 22:01

By Steve Green on Amazon September 17, 2013

Simonoff's descriptions of her early childhood memories are colorful, vivid, and beautifully written. Her words gently yet powerfully convey the truth of her experience. She digs deeply into her own psyche. I think nearly everyone will relate to the adventure of a young person trying to make sense of the confusing world around them.

Touching memoir from a child's point of view.
Saturday, 11 May 2013 15:33
By A. "ABrinskele" (California)


This book is about the life and struggles of a little girl growing up in Los Angeles many decades ago. She has to deal with so many things and has to learn to understand being hated for being Jewish, as though that makes any sense at all. So many can relate to her life and struggles especially since we still have children dealing with some of the same issues even today like bullying and predjudice and loss. After all, too many adults still don't know how to handle things like this appropriately. I felt so sad and then so glad for her when she loses her mother and then gets another mother who loves her before the age of six.
The Los Angeles descriptions and memories shared are so interesting to me, taking a train or red car for example is hard to imagine today in this City.
I think it is amazing that the author has such vivid and detailed memories of things that happened when she was so very young and she tells it so well!

Advance Reviews
Friday, 12 October 2012 19:44

“Jeanne Simonoff’s beautifully written memoir explores what it means to be human, to overcome hardship and loss, and to come into one’s own. It’s full of life, and we are with her all the way. The book is a complete delight: poignant, charming, brimming over with observation, vitality, and will to survive.” –Kathleen Spivack, poet and Pulitzer Prize nominee, Moments of Past Happiness, The Beds We Lie In

“ I have been enthralled by this inspiring memoir of a child’s experience of profound loss and survival; a story of individual resilience and familial care. This is an intimate glimpse into the mind of a child with irrepressible vitality and strength. Thanks to Jeanne Simonoff for her contribution to the literature of childhood loss and recovery.” –Jane Napier, psychotherapist

“Fall into the mind of a little girl. A compelling, funny, sad, and richly written memoir told through a child’s perspective about her loss, love, and the rite of passage into adult life and the family, and deep connection to family that carried her there.” –Jan Marquart, LCSW, author of Echoes from The Womb, A Book for Daughters

“This memoir of discovery and healing leads us to the delightful Queen Stinky, who refuses to take a bath. The author brings the child’s voice and the child’s strategy to power in this lyric work.” –Patricia A. Murphy, Ph.D., author of Searching for Spring. We Walk the Back of the Tiger

In Saving Myself: A Los Angeles Childhood, Jeanne Simonoff writes lyrically and passionately so that we can hear the lost who speak ‘without voice,’ and also vividly evokes the voices of family and childhood, of wonder and terror, against the backdrop of post-WWII anti-Semitic Los Angeles and its layers of history.” –Any Achtenberg, author of The Stone of Language and The Stories of Devil-Girl

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 19:30

By Julie Thorpe

What touched me most deeply about your memoir were the moments of intimacy with a mother, the one you lost, the one you gained, and your grandmother Bubbie. I think a child-girl's search for a mother is almost a universal story of coming home into the womb, into that space of utter seclusion and secret belonging where mystery is too deep to fathom.

Healing Childhood Hurts
Friday, 10 February 2012 12:04

The New Mexico Jewish Link Volume 42, Number 1  January 2012

By Tori Lee

     Santa Fe author Jeanne Simonoff’s gently written memoir takes readers back to post World War II Los Angeles. Her childhood is shattered when her mother dies suddenly while Jeanne is still a toddler. But her father regains his balance in due course and marries a wonderful woman who, along with Bubbie and Zaydie, provides a stable and loving environment for the young girl.

     Children make whatever sense they do of people and events without regard to any larger frame of reference. Simonoff has captured some of these wonderful non-linear memories of childhood. Maybe her cousin was right and her mom didn’t die but moved to Chicago. Why does she get sent out of Temple during the Yiskor service? Is that when something mysterious or magical happens that children aren’t supposed to see? What’s wrong with going Christmas caroling with her best friend Babette when both girls know all the words?

     Unfortunately, these childhood memories also include being bullied by a Jew-hating neighborhood boy and being denied membership in the local Girl Scout troop on religious grounds. But these experiences pale in comparison to the hurt of being told that, despite learning Hebrew and studying with the rabbi, she will not be called to the Torah when she turns 13. No bat mitzvah. As for so many young girls, a bat mitzvah just wasn’t an option back then.

   But Simonoff does not leave the reader on a sad note. An epilogue explains why the memoir is entitled Saving Myself. For at age 61, she bravely begins to study Hebrew again in preparation for her long delayed bat mitzvah, to regain a portion of her self long denied.

     Simonoff’s memoir tells the story of so many young women who found avenues for participation in their faith closed to them for no reason other than “that’s not how we do things.” Reading Saving Myself may serve as inspiration to other women who, no matter how much past age 13, wish to be called to the Torah and take their rightful place as full members of their faith.

The Voice and Perspective of a Child
Friday, 13 January 2012 13:18

By Brenda Weihl

Jeanne Simonoff has captured, poignantly, the voice and perspective of a child.  I was there with her, when she describes in rich detail, her experiences of pain as well as joy.

Heartwarming and Poetic
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 15:34

By DebPT

Reading this novel is like reading a long poem turned into a novelette. The rhythm of the story and the way it is told from childhood through the years makes it a recommendable and sweet read. For anyone who struggled through the saga of childhood, this story will speak to them. It is a story of overcoming grief, embracing your differences and loving who you are. It is a story of "becoming" and appreciating what you have been given in life. For every cloud there is a silver lining and Jeanne demonstrates this well in her vivid story.


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