Book Review in the University of Toronto Women in Judaism Journal
The Girl from Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten Histories, and a Sense of Home
Review by Andrea Pflaumer
Sadia Shepard’s remarkable memoir The Girl from Foreign is as satisfying for the personal mysteries it solves as it is unsettling for the larger geo-political questions it raises. Born in Denver, the daughter of an American Christian father and a Pakistani Muslim mother, Shepard embraces her multicultural identity (‘it’s all one God,’) in a country that welcomes hyphenation. But as a young woman embarking on a writing career she learns that her maternal grandmother, who lived with and was an important part of the family during Shepard’s formative years, was not originally from Pakistan nor was she Muslim. She was, in fact, born into the Bene Israel community of Western India as Rachel Jacobs. In her grandmother’s final years she asks Shepard to ‘tell my story,’ launching the young woman on an arduous physical and emotional journey to discover her grandmother’s roots, a voyage that became one of self-discovery as well.
I am a freelance nonfiction writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. My biggest 'scoop' was interviewing Brian Jones - the original bass player with the Rolling Stones- for my high school newspaper.
For more than 15 years I wrote newsletters, publicity materials and proposals for the Transcendental Meditation organization. I also taught the TM program for more than 35 years, which has deeply informed my interest in development of consciousness.
I have a Bachelor's degree in Dance from UCLA and taught creative dance and movement for ages five through 92. In 1986 I designed the senior citizen exercise program for Summit Medical Center's community outreach program in Oakland, California.
In my writing career I focus on the arts, culture, and the environment.