Amy Oestreicher is one Fairfield native who’s happy to be alive. At nearly 18, she was headed for her prom, college, then hopefully, Broadway, until a blood clot caused her stomach to explode, setting her off course. Amy slipped into a coma for months, only to emerge to be told she may never eat or drink again, while coming to terms with a long kept secret — that she was sexually abused by a trusted mentor. Oestreicher recounts her journey in her memoir, My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful. The Fairfield University Bookstore will host “Creativity and Resilience: Mental Health Strategies for Detourists,” a Facebook Live Author Talk, with Oestreicher on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. The author will be in conversation with Michele Turk, President of the Connecticut Press Club, followed by a reading, Q&A, and theater trivia for signed memoir prizes (Oestreicher is also a stage performer). Personalized copies of the book are available for purchase prior to or after the event through the Fairfield University Book Store.
The community at large is invited to hear Oestreicher deliver inspiration, positive mental health strategies, and speak to the transformative power of creativity. To attend, go to the Book Store’s Facebook page on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
Oestreicher is now 33 and has done much since that fateful hospital stay, which wouldn’t be her last. She has endured 28 surgeries and survived seven years without food or drink, while her digestive system was repaired and her inner self, healed from devastating trauma. The good news is,Oestreicher has made it to the spotlight and has beyond thrived: She’s not only a memoirist, but an Audie Award-nominated author, PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, award-winning actress, and playwright. Oestreicher is also a mental health advocate, workshop leader, clothing designer, and all-around dynamo, despite her continued challenges.
“I’m excited to share my story: how I navigated a seemingly impossible situation to find the real gifts that anyone can discover from facing obstacles of their own. I wrote My Beautiful Detour to convey my unwavering love of life and to set a template for those who follow. I’m grateful for all who have played unmatched roles along my journey and am proud to celebrate virtually at Fairfield University Book Store, located in my hometown which holds cherished memories,” said Oestreicher.
Oestreicher grew up on Sky Top Terrace, spent time at Fairfield’s Discovery Museum, the Jewish Community Center, and in the Fairfield County Children’s Choir. She attended North Stratfield School in Fairfield, Fairfield Woods Middle School, and Fairfield Warde High School. Unable to receive her diploma in the scheduled ceremony, she was given a surprise graduation ceremony in Columbia Presbyterian’s ICU — to include her degree, cap and gown, and local friends. Now an ASSERT Project Coordinator for The Hub: Behavioral Health Action Organization for Southwestern, CT, Amy returns to Fairfield, virtually, via Facebook Live to give back in the form of inspiration, encouraging others to successfully navigate their own detours with her winning strategies.
My Beautiful Detour is gripping, unique, and the subject of her one-woman musical, Gutless & Grateful, which she’s performed in 200+ venues nationwide and also, the reimagined version of her tale in her show, Passageways, which premiered in 2019 at the New York’s HERE Theater. Oestreicher’s story starts senior year in high school, chronicles her betrayal from a longtime teacher that corresponded with her medical emergency, and takes the reader to present-day. The memoir illustrates how Oestreicher used creativity to help transform adversity into personal growth and invites others to do the same. Her miraculous comeback stems from more than a decade of intense resilience-building. And she knows what she writes: Oestreicher has survived organ failure and powered through the PTSD that comes from both emotional and physical trauma. In addition to her moving memoir, Oestreicher is a regular lifestyle, wellness, and arts contributor for over 70 online and print publications. In addition, her story has been featured on NBC’s Today, CBS,Cosmopolitan, Seventeen Magazine, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, and MSNBC, among others.
Oestreicher will be interviewed by Michele Turk, Founder of A Bloc of Writers, the Greenwich-based college admissions tutorial firm and author of Blood, Sweat and Tears: An Oral History of the American Red Cross.
“My Beautiful Detour is a page-turner as Amy’s story both encourages and inspires. I’m thrilled to be part of her ‘Creativity and Resilience’ event, as it’s an evening to support local talent and salute Fairfield,” said Michele Turk.
Photo credit: Joseph Gray