Today I get to share about another novel reflecting upon life as a young Catholic. This particular book has a young boy (2nd into 3rd grade) living in the suburbs of Saint Louis during the 1960s. (Kevin Killeen is also a guest poster on the blog today.)
About Never Hug a Nun
From first crushes and cafeteria lines, hidden forts and secret passwords, learning the Cub Scout oath and robbing the Ben Franklin, to hanging out on the train tracks, running from the police, enduring stuffy classrooms and, of course, dodging projectile vomit, Never Hug a Nun laces the reader into the Keds of young Patrick Cantwell—a boy who really wants to be good, but who, like his hero The Wolfman, always seems to fall short.
Set in Webster Groves in 1966, the story takes readers on a laughing, head-shaking, I-remember-doing-that-stuff ride through the rigors of practicing good penmanship, the rites of spring kickball, unsupervised summer days filled with Velvet Freeze daydreams of starting a band at least as good as The Beatles, and, finally, to those dying seconds when a boy reaches out bravely to hold the 220-volt live wire of a girl’s hand.
Read an excerpt of Never Hug a Nun.
About Kevin Killeen
A reporter with KMOX radio since 1995, Kevin Killeen has confused listeners for the past ten years with his regular morning feature, A Whole ‘nother Story. Killeen has also authored the KMOX Holiday Radio Show, an original comic play with a holiday theme, for the past 15 years or so. In Never Hug a Nun, Killeen attempts to escape his declining faculties, by casting his mind back to the days of his youth when he spent long summer days on the train tracks or hanging out at the Velvet Freeze and wishing he were a teenager.
A 1982 graduate of UMSL, Killeen studied fiction writing under comic novelist David Carkeet who corrupted him with thoughts of getting published someday. Married with four children, Killeen enjoys asking his kids — again — to please, pick up their shoes, moving the sprinkler around a dying lawn, and going to garage sales on Saturday with his mother.
My Thoughts About Never Hug A Nun
I have to admit that I love seeing a weaving of faith (or in this case a character learning about their Catholic faith) in a story. Reading about the antics of a young boy was entertaining, too. However, it also left me very grateful that my boys are not into nearly that much trouble. At least, I don’t think they are.
What I loved reading was about how many adventures kids could have in a time when people were not keeping kids ‘safely’ locked behind doors or confined in a fenced backyard. Instead, they were out in the neighborhood or even in town. Although, some of the trouble that young Patrick Cantwell (with his slightly older brother John) gets into might have me wanting to keep him under tighter supervision. But, it was nice to reminisce about my own youth where doors were not locked if you just popped over to the neighbor’s house and parents encouraged you to get outside and play with the other kids.
Once scene that I really liked was when Patrick and other classmates are waiting for their turn to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Some things have not changed too much as I’ve seen kids line hop based on how long a priest is taking to hear individual confessions or the demeanor of the individual leaving the confessional. I also enjoyed having an elderly nun appear at Patrick’s side to encourage him to pray for the poor souls in purgatory as during that time so much change was happening and long time rituals were being discarded. To me, it was a reminder that you don’t have to toss it all out for something new.
Another that sticks out in my mind is as he and his brother await parental pickup at the police station. Seeing the different reactions of the other boys’ parents showed just how different each parent can be in how to handle a difficult situation. But, I also loved how Patrick and John’s dad gets told by a city employee that the kids acting out was all due to TV and Dr. Spock. Yet another universality… the current generation of kids is often seen as being problematic and so much ‘worse’ than previous generations.
Overall, the story is entertaining and Kevin’s wit shows in his writing. When I was finished reading Never Hug a Nun, I was left wondering just how many of the antics were things that he really did as a boy. I suspect he’d take the Fifth when questioned, though.
Never Hug a Nun retails for $14.95 and can be purchased direct from the publisher (Blank Slate Press.)
Win a Copy of Never Hug a Nun
One lucky blog reader will win their own copy of the delightful title. Entries are accepted through the Giveaway Tools form below until December 31, 2012. Open to US and Canada residents only.
Disclaimer ~ We were sent a copy of the book to facilitate a review as part of a TLC Book Tour. No other compensation occurred and all opinions are our own. You can see what other reviewers thought of this title by visiting the Never Hug a Nun Tour page.