"My friend wrote this. It’s beautifully written. Doesn’t focus on the horror, or the insanity of Jim Jones. What it does do is it gives a voice and a life to each of her beloved friends that she lost, as well as those who survived. It’s like a love letter to them. It’s a tribute to a group of wonderful human beings who had a vision of leading a better life through community. The author is probably the strongest person I know and has since made a wonderful life, raised a family, teaches children, was nominated Teacher of the Year, is an activist and lectures everywhere in her “spare” time. This in spite of the years of heartache and grief afterwards, she never gave up, and she never slows down."
Peggy Yost – Synanon friend
"I met Laura, a few years ago, as a fellow teacher at our vibrant middle school. I was drawn to Laura’s direct, competent and sincere manner. She seemed to be a wise and kind teacher who truly cared about her students; I wanted to get to know her better. As we become acquainted she told me of her book, Jonestown Survivor, and of course I was intrigued. I read the book straight through in two days, finding it immensely interesting, poignant, inspiring and historical. Upon finishing the book, I was left with a contemplative sense of life, and our individual and group quests to better the human condition – albeit often confusedly."
Vicki Sullivan – Middle School Colleague
"I had the honor of portraying Laura in a production of The Peoples Temple at Napa Valley Conservatory Theater in April 2011. I was given the opportunity to connect with her, and I jumped at the chance. Speaking with her made me realize that we both are very passionate about what we do, and we aren't afraid to speak our minds. Laura is truly a wonderful, loving person, and I think anyone who knows her or meets her knows that."
Jessica Romero – Napa Valley College Actor
"I met Laura via email in April, 2011. I contacted her asking for any information on any or all of the characters I was portraying in THE PEOPLES TEMPLE for the Napa Valley Repertory Co. which was performing at Napa Valley College. Laura was most generous in her support and information. She gave me thumbnail sketches of each of the characters and sent me photographs to support my research. She also recommended a couple of online resources for me to check out. What a wealth of information she has!!
My stage work takes me all over the Bay Area and one often needs to research many aspects of the plays one is performing: the time, the issues, the characters' current and past stories, the playwright's intent, and on and on. Laura provided me and others in our cast with wonderful information. By doing so, she helped to make our portrayals honest and respectful. And so, I THANK HER for her generosity and for her commitment to the lives of those who died because of, survived in spite of, and who were affected by their relatives' affiliations with the Peoples Temple."
Marjorie Crump-Shears; Cotati, CA
"A Synanon friend, Mike Vandeman, attended my Book Talk in Richmond in March 2011. He bought my book and sent me these messages:
The first message before he finished the book:
I just started it, after finishing my library books. Usually I wait till I finish a book, before commenting on it, but in this case, I can't wait (Synanon also taught me never to wait to communicate something)!
You are an excellent writer! You pick the right words, and you don't waste any. But most of all, I am touched and impressed by your honesty and openness. I credit, or associate that with, Synanon, but that is probably only part of the cause. In any case, it is a rare and priceless attribute. I feel that I am being carried along on a wave of life and emotion. Sometimes I'm moved almost to tears (but, then, I have been known to cry over a commercial). Thank you for writing it, and for sharing it and your story. To be continued….
Now, I'm not so sure I will be able to part with it in order to put it in the library.
And, finally, he sent this:
I love your last sentence! It is very close to poetry. It dips into sadness, but ends on a positive note. The word "continue" also depicts that forward motion. You may have just been telling the truth, but the form is inspired.
I still don't know if I can part with it [his copy of my book], even if lots of other people get to read it…. It is gut-wrenching, even though decorously restrained. This is way more than a book! It feels like a very personal letter to me. I love the photos, too.
My initial assessment was right on."
"The internet is a wonderful tool. Any information you want can be found. Regrettably, not all of it is reliable. In my quest to know more about a man with a dream that turned into a huge nightmare, I discovered a website that gave honour to many that never survived that nightmare, and credibility to those that did.
One of the 'voices' on the Website was Laura. I flooded Laura with many emails. Some of my enquiries were most insensitive. Laura was very generous with her time and forgiving of my ignorance. When she published her memoir, I made sure that I got a copy.
The book was so completely honest in its simplicity, my appreciation for Laura grew. I don't think my full appreciation of Laura Kohl was really born until I met her big sister, Linda. Only then did I realise what a gigantic personality Laura is.
I have not yet met Laura, but it is high on my “to do” list.
Laura is a survivor. It can be argued that she put herself in tricky situations but if we are prepared to hear what she has to say, we can learn much about our own strength."
Niels Colesky, South Africa
"Laura Kohl brings such a fresh spirit of energy, faith and optimism to everything she does. I much admire her commitment to peace, fairness and social justice, and have been honored to know her as, courageously, with great humility, honesty and vulnerability; she has come to terms with her experiences at Jonestown."
Stephanie Freeman, a Quaker Friend
"Keep calm and carry on."
"A friend for 40 years, Laura has shared with me our mutual struggle to live beyond the boundaries of survival. Although I left Peoples Temple 3 weeks before the massacre and Laura remained loyal to the end, we never lost sight of our respect and caring for each other. More recently, as I have been writing my own book, Jonestown Lullaby, Laura has offered me invaluable insight into the publishing world. Without her, my book would be collecting dust on my desk. Laura has been an example to me on how to live a full life with honor and dignity. My thanks will never be enough."
Teri Buford O'Shea
"As my curiosity then knowledge of Peoples Temple and Jonestown grew so did my desire to reach out to any survivors. The first to respond to my clumsy and late condolences via email was Laura Kohl. Not only was she gracious in her acceptance of my heartfelt sentiments I also found a kindred, open-minded spirit. From there has developed an exchange of friendship and intellectual energies despite the distance between us."
Love 2 U,
Susan Mbi White Hicks
"In the tragic aftermath of Jonestown, Laura Kohl's writing and presence is incredibly brave, and very true. In a world where the word "Survivor" is thought of as a TV show, Kohl shows us what a “real” survivor looks like."
Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons