An Extraordinary Life


Non-Fiction - Memoir
452 Pages
Reviewed on 09/18/2018
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

My sister once asked, if in an interview, why I wanted to publish this very personal story, so I thought of the different themes intertwined throughout: 1. It illustrates that some people working in governmental agencies have unique and interesting ways to hide the truth 2. The story is international in scope involving lawyers from four different countries 3. Illustrates the workings of the U.S. Civilian Service grievance system at the time when the work place discrimination action in this story was filed 4. The issues Black families face in just trying to survive in a nation that still regards many of them as second class citizens, 5. Involves historical and political figures, 6. I wanted the letters, affidavits, and government documents to tell the story and 7. Last but not least, but most importantly, children are usually the big losers in the divorce fight between their parents.

I'm currently retired and have spent the majority of my adult life as a science educator. As a K-5 science specialist for a major Florida School District I designed and developed the first-two stand-alone dedicated elementary science classroom in the State. I have worked as a naturalist and director of a 140 acre environmental center, as well as an Instructional Specialist for the U.S. Navy (Financial Management,) U.S. Army (designing and developing medical interactive multimedia and distance learning courses,) and Department of Defense Dependent Schools (Science Specialist.) I hold degrees in Zoology, Elementary Education and Instructional Technology as well as a certificate in Geographical Information Systems.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

An Extraordinary Life by Daniel C. Freeman, an epic memoir, begins during the Depression, when the author's grandparents first moved from Texas to New York with P. Frank Jr to seek a better life. In 1942, P. Frank was drafted into the army, and whilst in Paris, he meets Sophie. They instantly fall in love and finally marry. Sophie and Frank communicate through romantic love letters, but cracks soon begin to show in a once-loving relationship. The cracks soon turn into huge crevices as the battle lines are set and they decide to divorce. The following ten years see a custody battle over their son, extramarital affairs, a kidnap attempt, and a racial discrimination case filed against the US Army. The book is filled with original letters and documents from family members, solicitors, and congressmen, including Mr. Dingell in the House of Representatives. P. Frank leaves a legacy that can still be admired today.

This is a remarkably unique memoir that will transport you back in time. The whole story was a joy to read, the letters between Frank and Sophie at the beginning of their marriage were beautifully poignant. I also found the official documents of the racial discrimination case shocking. To read the wording of these documents, and understand how coloured people were treated not so long ago, was appalling. The hours that have gone into creating this wonderful book must have been an incredible work of love. I feel honoured that the author has allowed us into his family history. This book is a testimony to P. Frank's determination to fight for what was right. I thought the note by the author in the end was a good addition and a cautionary tale to any parent that battles over their children. Thank you, Daniel, for a superb book.

Romuald Dzemo

An Extraordinary Life by Daniel C. Freeman is a memoir based on the writings, legal documents, and letters kept within a family between 1945 and 1969; a spellbinding memoir of love and betrayal, of lust and hurt, of infidelity and a man’s struggle to remain sane in the midst of human injustice and cruelty. They met casually in 1944. But a few days later, U.S. Army draftee, the Afro-American P. Frank would be back at Pharmacie De La Nation in Paris to get another glimpse of Sophie, but things turned out to be far more promising than anything he’d ever dreamed.

The reader is plunged into a love story that begins with great fervor, but one that quickly faces far more challenges than normal. Follow this family saga as one man has to fight for justice on a dangerous path that would lead to lawsuits, infidelity and the battle for custody of their son. What made things horrible for young P. Frank is the fact that he’d be dealing with an international case. Years will roll by and a moment comes for the once-upon-a-time passionate lovers to face each other again. Could there be more room in their hearts to accommodate each other? And can they reconcile their long-time differences?

This is a gritty story with powerful racial underpinnings, a story of how the law can become an instrument of oppression where color lines are visible. The story is beautifully told and I enjoyed the brilliant use of the epistolary style. There are instances where the reader feels as though they are given the choice to get the facts by themselves, to make their own judgement from letters, published as they were originally written. Daniel C. Freeman’s An Extraordinary Life is an impassioned story, well-plotted, and filled with powerful historical and cultural references. Although it deals with a man’s struggle, it is still a story with lessons on hope and reconciliation.

Gisela Dixon

An Extraordinary Life by Daniel C. Freeman is a memoir about Daniel’s biological parents and their relationship. The book begins with a brief overview and then the story starts off at the time period just before World War II. Daniel grew up never even knowing about the existence of his biological mother since he was raised as the child of his father’s current wife. Years later, when he learns the truth, he delves into translating old letters and pieces together the story of his parents' lives from these, as well as talking to the people involved. Daniel’s father, P. Frank, an African American in the segregation era in the US, meets Sophie, his mother, a young French teenager in Paris, while serving in the military. There is an instant attraction by all accounts and the two get married. However, partly due to the long distance, and mainly due to temperamental differences, the marriage is rocky almost from the beginning, and following the birth of Daniel, there is a long, drawn out custody battle involving both governments, kidnapping attempts, a lot of breakups and temporary reconciliations, until P. Frank wins and decides their son is not going to even learn about his mother, let alone see or get to know her. This is the story told in large part through the actual letters of those times.

I found An Extraordinary Life to be interesting but also a disturbing read. It was disturbing because the idea of a mother not being allowed to communicate with, see, or know her child is unbearable and there is simply no excuse for it. This is coming on top of actual physical abuse by P. Frank on his wife, including slapping and beatings as mentioned in the letters, along with hints of some sexual assaults of some kind, making this almost a horrifying and sad story. Although Sophie certainly comes across as immature and perhaps a bit spoilt initially, P. Frank comes across as a chauvinistic, domineering, and abusive husband. The writing is very engaging though and the actual letters make the book very raw and authentic. The plot moves quickly and we learn everything as it happens in sequence through the series of letters from everyone involved. This is an interesting book for anyone who likes to read family memoirs.

Jamie Michele

An Extraordinary Life by Daniel C. Freeman is the author's memoir, documenting the discovery of his natural heritage after believing throughout his entire youth that the nuclear family he had was actually his. Instead he's told the following: his father was married before, his mother was actually his step-mother, and his biological mother was a French woman he had no recollection of and no other connection to. Freeman learned of his biological mother before his father's death, but no light was ever shed on the circumstances surrounding the estrangement of mother from son. It isn't until Freeman opens up a 40-year-old trunk full of letters, legal documents, and a whole archive of records - and the 13-year quest to compile and translate them all from French - that Freeman is able to discover the truth surrounding a life and family previously withheld from him.

Memoirs can be tricky to review because it can sometimes feel like you're passing judgement on more than just a manuscript. It's someone's life, and in general I tend not to pick them up. An Extraordinary Life by Daniel C. Freeman is different. It's a memoir that reads like a mystery, and the plot is interesting enough that if it were fiction, I'd pick it up immediately. The reality, however, is that this fascinating story is true, and that's where it hits the heart hardest. Freeman is a wildly talented author with a writing style that is instantly engaging, elevating a compelling story into a gripping work of literature. If, like me, you find yourself passing on memoirs...don't make that mistake here. An Extraordinary Life is a book you don't want to miss out on.

Divine Zape

An Extraordinary Life by Daniel C. Freeman is described as non-fiction, a memoir, but it’s a tale of love at first sight, a grueling breakup, and an unusual journey towards reconciliation and healing. The story takes the reader back to a December day in 1944, when P. Frank, a U.S. Army draftee, first met with Sophie at the Pharmacie De La Nation in Paris. This African-American could not resist the extraordinary beauty of the young French girl and vowed to come back, a commitment he honored a month later. They fell in love quickly and got married, but this led to a decade of conflict, which involved the parties on an international scene, kidnapping, the fight for child custody, discrimination when it came to job opportunities, and untold suffering. But when time has passed and another encounter happens, will they have the courage to forgive each other?

The story features powerful themes, including family, racial issues, betrayal, infidelity, and reconciliation. The author features references to family documents, letters, and material including resources from lawyers, and other reputable persons. It’s a story of heartbreak and healing, and readers will enjoy how the author allows the documents to speak for themselves, featuring letters in the narrative which play a powerful role in the drama. In An Extraordinary Life, Daniel C. Freeman explores the question of what makes a man, following the protagonist in his incessant struggle for justice and his courage in the face of untold vicissitudes. It is written in a very simple and engaging style that captures the emotions of the people involved and allows readers to easily connect to them.

Mike

Review from createspace.com

This truly hit me hard in the gut. I'm anxious to read this book.

Jeanne

Review from createspace.com

I really want to continue reading this book NOW ! The author's style caught and kept my attention. I want to know more about his life and where he is now. I would absolutely read the book and hope it comes out on Kindle.

Daniel Freeman

Thank you Readers' Favorites for the five and four star reviews.

When these letters and documents were discovered and read, I found it difficult to believe. I would read them and exclaim to my wife, can you believe this, can you believe that. As I combed through the letters and began to place them in sequence, the story that was emerging was similar to the movie "War of the Roses" - except this was a real life drama. bbRecently I found a recording my father and "mother" made in 1954. I was not aware that record/album recording devices were available to the general public.

With today's technology, this 78 rpm recording was digitized and placed on my author's web-site. I was so amazed to hear their young voices from 64+ years. I've added period photos to the recordings to turn them into a slide show,

https://alyeskeea.com/2018/09/03/an-extraordinary-life-chapter-10-part-1/

https://alyeskeea.com/2018/09/08/an-extraordinary-life-chapter-10-part-2/

sorry, can't leave a comment without rating my own book