Urban Nomad: A Memoir by Freddie Kelvin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

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A man who has shunned his past finds himself returning to the life he thought he left behind in author Freddie Kelvin’s “Urban Nomad: A Memoir”.


The Synopsis

Freddie Kelvin has had enough of all this hatred. His parents escaped the Nazis, and he decides to abandon his Jewish upbringing in England.

He becomes a doctor, even though he doesn’t understand science.

He marries in a church but is haunted by ghosts of his Jewish past.

As he jumps from job to job and city to city, he is lost, rootless, and disconnected. After a brief stint in Canada, he returns to his homeland.

Once back in England, he’s told unwelcome news: “We can’t hire you; you’re too much of a wanderer.” So, he jumps ship and lands a job in North Carolina.

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He survives a major heart attack and two cardiac arrests but remains alive 15 years later. Finding new passions in photography and the performing arts, he takes his camera to many exotic countries including, to his surprise, on several trips to Israel.

Part memoir and part a unique perspective on religion, history, and culture, Freddie traces his experiences in a wide variety of different communities.

After wandering far and wide for so long, he continues to ponder where he belongs and finally comes to terms with his Jewishness.


The Review

This was a compelling and moving memoir. The author does such an incredible job of capturing the mental and emotional journey that the author had when diverting away from his family history and then rediscovering it for himself years later. The passion and heart that went into the author’s story and the imagery that brought the settings to life, from war-torn Austria and the people who had to escape from there during WWII, to life in England and even in the United States made the author’s life truly visceral. 

The culture and atmosphere the author establishes become the true heart of the story. The author’s personal experiences and the feeling of listlessness were so palpable on the page, and the connection the author discovered to his disconnect to his family and heritage made this story so emotionally driven and thoughtfully curated. The detail that went into his parent’s life both as individuals and together, as well as their escape rom Austria during WWII, added to the depth of emotion and history that this memoir brought to life.

The Verdict

Gripping, engaging, and memorable, author Freddie Kelvin’s “Urban Nomad:  A Memoir” is a must-read nonfiction read. The detailed yet mesmerizing detail that went into this narrative and the history and culture that helped elevate the author’s personal story made this a fantastic book to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Freddie Kelvin, the only son of Ernst and Ida Kohut, was born in England after they had narrowly escaped from Nazi-held Austria. He grew up in a strictly protective Jewish community. He rebelled against this by changing his last name to Kelvin and dismissing any connection to Jewish society. Moving to London to study medicine, he found himself tossed around in new communities with a precarious loss of identity. Training in so many unfamiliar surroundings, he felt lost, rootless and disconnected. Almost no one knew that he was Jewish. He married the first of his two Christian wives in a church, leading to feelings of guilt about betraying his heritage. Reluctant to drag his tail back to the industrialized north of England, he emigrated to the United States. Later on, he took courses in creative writing and became a passionate photographer. This led to a life-changing epiphany, for he realized that his heart truly lay in the arts. Better late than never! He traveled abroad widely, experiencing many different cultures. These nomadic experiences, while always tinged with excitement, were confusing. Identity change is a complicated business, and always poses the questions: “Who are we and where do we belong?” Ultimately, try as you may, you cannot entirely escape your roots. Freddie’s story is part memoir and part a unique perspective on religion, culture and history. After many visits to Israel, he slowly developed a sense of pride in his Jewish background. Inspired by the wanderings of both his parents and himself, he developed an urge to write his memoir, and so Urban Nomad was born and became his baby.


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