Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “funeral”

PTSD – The Children Suffer Too.

I have written a lot about PTSD and my own experiences. Unwanted Heroes, my latest novel, focuses on the struggle of a Asian-American war veteran. But, ironically, I have never given serious consideration to the impact on the children.

I once threw my then four-year-old child to the ground and jumped on top of him when firecrackers went off for a funeral in Chinatown. I remember how it took a while for him to begin crying ­– he just stared at me in disbelief that his father would do something violent to him.


There are two chapters in Unwanted Heroes where our protagonist, Will, visits his boss’s children in an attempt to understand their father better. He meets two very different ways of dealing with their father’s illness.

One is galvanized to help him and advocates to help others suffering from PTSD. The result is an incredibly strained relationship which almost estranges them on numerous explosive occasions. The other builds a wall, similar to the one his father has, a tool of defense he deems necessarily to protect himself and his father. Ironically, this drawn line in the sand enables him to maintain contact with his deteriorating father whereas his sister cannot.


It has never occurred to me that the traumas of the father (or mother) transfer in one way or another to the children. I realize it is obvious in retrospect, especially as my generation is the children of Holocaust survivors, and there are many studies, interviews and written accounts by the children.

On one occasion, my eldest (maybe 12 years old then) turned the lights off and jumped out to surprise me when I entered the house. My hand stopped inches from his throat in a move that, I absolutely know, would have damaged him severely. When I realized what had transpired, I screamed at him and he slunk off to his room. I calmed down and we talked. Boys are boys and they still often jump me. Sometimes it is fun and we roll around laughing on the bed or floor in tickling fights, sometimes I push them away and yell at them.


My sons are lucky. Their father might be flawed but he is not broken. He works hard to ensure that they all remain a close and loving family.

The tickle fights are fun. I guess the rebuffs are worth it.


Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  


Summer’s Over – A Personal Post

It’s been a roller coaster of a summer and today, the last day of August, it seems a good time to catch up and look forward.

The high point was my family camping trip. My boys caught some tasty trout, completed their first serious bike ride (five hours) on bike paths around Lake Siskiyou and we enjoyed some wonderful quality family time that is invaluable in our stressful and packed world.

The low point, as I blogged last week, was the sad passing away of my dear friend Rebecca. Judaism has many beautiful rituals surrounding death. I participated in Shmirat Hagoof (guarding the body) whereby friends took turns to sit with the body for the time between passing and burial. I spent two hours sitting and talking with her, and it was very meaningful. The funeral and the shiva (visiting the mourners in their house) were both fitting tributes to a wonderful woman. Many, many family and friends bonded and shared inspiring memories and humorous stories. While mourning her death, we celebrated her life, as she wanted.

In my writing life, I completed the manuscript for the sequel to Unwanted Heroes (due 01/2012) and a sequel to my fantasy novel together with my oldest son, and Left Coast Voices was nominated as one of San Francisco’s Most Valuable Blogs.

Also, The Accidental Activist is now in The Berkeley Public Library system after the California Writer’s Club donated a number of their authors’ books.

Author JoAnn Smith Ainsworth makes the presentation on behalf of the California Writer's Club

Looking forward to the next few months and there are three exciting landmarks coming up.

1. A Gardener’s Tale will be released on kindle. It is being professionally edited at the moment.

2. Three Clover Press is sending me on a national 10-15 stop book tour in November – without me having to leave home. They have signed a deal with a company that specializes in this. I will keep you informed as I learn more.

3. Unwanted Heroes is planned for a January release. We will begin looking for a cover artist and the rest of the exciting process.

Finally, for a limited time, The Accidental Activist is available on Kindle at $2.99 – less than the last cappuccino I bought (though the book doesn’t come with chocolate powder).

Have a great September,


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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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