A memoir of awakening, discovery, identity, and the struggle to change life’s terms
by April Kirkwood
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For rural Ohio beauty queen April Kirkwood, her #MeToo moment came way before the term was coined. She lost her virginity to the middle-aged Frankie Valli at 16, after a decade pursuing a childhood fantasy to be the crooner’s wife. The affair would go on (and off, and on) for decades.
But Frankie Valli is just a central character in April’s complex story of her struggle to break the generational cycle of abused and dependent women. Indeed, the strong women in Working My Way Back to Me are filled with enormous love that offers protection, but also intensifies the hurt. Through April’s eyes, we experience joys and heartaches that echo across more than a half-century of old family secrets and ways, and the triumphs and defeats involved in trying to break the mold.
April Lynn Kirkwood was not yet six years old when she first met Frankie Valli at a concert in Youngstown, Ohio, known as Bomb Town, USA, in part because of its reputation for Mafia influence. From there, April weaves a story of her ever-growing obsession with the pop star, and how her female relatives aided and abetted her seemingly preposterous quest. From a young age, against the backdrop of violence and abuse and molestation at home— some in the past, some very present—April was the family’s salvation. Their future star. Their Somebody, Someday. Sweet little April sang and danced to Four Seasons tunes, as she amassed a collection of Frankie Valli memorabilia. Schoolgirl April strived to master the baton and dance, while using her Barbie and Ken dolls to create an intricate light and love-filled future for her and the celebrity singer. Adolescent April cultivated grace and manners, all the time hoping to become the kind of girl to whom Frankie would one day be devoted. Almost-grown up April won over pageant judges, keeping in mind Frankie’s advice to always stay beautiful. Young adult April clung to her love for Frankie, simultaneously failing at relationships with a string of Frankie prototypes. April, all through the years, with the tacit approval of a mother desperate to raise a star, pursued her idol from concert to concert, dressed in her straw Frankie hat and Frankie sash.
April’s eccentric cast of characters includes a born-again grandmother, a pill-popping seductress mother, a child molester grandfather, a bruiser father in-law, a timid father, a riotous aunt, an upper-crust degenerative gambler, a funk musician, and many others.
It is an inspirational tale that sheds light on universal struggles involving love, sexuality, addiction, and mental health. April’s adventures lead to betrayal and suffering, and her fate depends, in part, on her female relatives’ ability to protect and empower a better future. April must learn the fine line between guidance and sabotage as she claws her way to a future not as a savior, but as her own fiercely accomplished woman.
Working My Way Back to Me is the story of April’s reckoning with an emotionally destructive relationship that harkens to her early childhood, and the women pushing and pulling behind her. It is a story in which April refuses to see herself as a victim, but instead tries to summon the courage and resilience to reinvent herself.
After twenty-five years of working as an educator, April Kirkwood has committed herself as a certified Licensed Professional Counselor working with those who have experienced emotional abuse, divorce, molestation, and addiction.
April holds masters degrees in both school and community mental health counseling. After twenty-five years working as an educator, she is now a certified Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in addiction and duel diagnosis. She is also certified in elementary school guidance counseling, as well as middle and high school-level English. April’s professional focus is on the transformation from #MeToo into #NowME, a process which helps patients heal and rebuild their lives. Telling her story is another way for April to help others with their own stories and challenges.
April Dating Frankie Valli Young April with Frankie Valli
Contact: Gobos Film & Entertainment, Inc.
Valerie Gobos | Val@GobosInc.com | 312-836-8300