Fifteen years ago, enjoying lunch out at a local restaurant — let alone lunch at all — would been an impossibility for Westport resident Amy Oestreicher.

Fast forward a 15 years, and the author is thrilled to share a prix fixe lunch with the Ridgefield community while discussing her newly released memoir My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful as part of the Author Luncheon Series at Bernard’s Restaurant. Growing up in the area, Oestreicher was “your everyday teenager.”

At nearly 18, she was headed for her prom, college, then hopefully, Broadway, until a blood clot caused her stomach to literally explode, setting her off course.

Oestreicher 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. After 28 surgeries and nearly seven years unable to eat or drink anything by mouth, Oestreicher’s digestive system was miraculously surgically reconstructed.

The ability to savor food once again is a joy for which Oestreicher is infinitely grateful.

Enter her memoir, My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful, sharing her poignant, true-to-life adventures through “unthinkable” trauma and the gifts of resilience that can be reaped from following any “detour” in our lives. Oestreicher will be the featured speaker at an author luncheon at Bernard’s Restaurant, 20 West Lane, Ridgefield.

The event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 30, at noon. She will read from her memoir, speak briefly during the prix fixe lunch ($35), and conduct a question and answer. There will be a book signing and door prize gift basket. Reservations can be made by calling Bernard’s at 203-438-8282.

Oestreicher is now 32 and has done much since that fateful hospital stay, which wouldn’t be her last. In fact, she’s 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, she 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. Amy 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 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 fellow ‘detourists.’ With several years without food or drink, what better place to salute my journey than a luncheon! I’m honored to be able to do so at Bernard’s,” said Oestreicher.

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 Amy 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: Amy has survived organ failure and powered through the PTSD that comes from both emotional and physical trauma. Amy is also a regular lifestyle, wellness, and arts contributor for over 70 online and print publications.

In addition, her story has been featured on on NBC’s Today, CBS, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen Magazine, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, and MSNBC, among others.

Oestreicher has much to celebrate and welcomes all to her event for a meal, conversation, and community — but especially to come away hopeful about reframing life’s detours.

To learn more, visit her website,