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Chris Lynch (b. 1962), a Boston native, is an award-winning author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including Freewill (2001), which won the Michael L. Printz Honor, and National Book Award finalist Inexcusable (2005). Lynch holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College, and teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Lesley University. He mentors aspiring writers and continues to work on new literary projects while splitting time between Boston and Scotland.
At six-fifteen on a borderline blizzard morning, outside my bedroom window, Skitz Fitzsimmons reared his ugly head. I was preoccupied and groggy at the same time, so I didn't even notice him there until he was staring back at me like a lunatic mirror reflection. He had one eye squinted and the other eye wide and his mouth was pinched up in a pucker and shifted way over to the side. Like he always looked.
"So, what's the news? Anything mental in the news today?" he said through the glass of the storm window and the glass of the regular window, all excited, with a big band of snow crust sitting like a ledge on his brow.
"Don't you have a hat?" I asked. He should have had a hat. Any normal person would have had a hat out there. It was wicked weather.
"Shuddup, who cares about a hat. I don't need a hat. What's mental in the news today?"
"Shuddup, who cares about the news, I'm trying to listen to the no-school report."
It is a magical thing to listen to, the no-school report early in the morning. So early in the morning, and so early in the season. A November storm was magic on top of magic, and because of my working hours, because of my route, I got to listen in on WBZ probably before anybody else was even aware that it was snowing. And itwas like a church service, all quiet except for the radio guy chanting the names of towns and of schools I would otherwise never hear in my life except during the no-school reports. Like St. Columbkille's, like the Beaver Country Day School, like the town of Dracut. They might have been names the radio guy made up to keep himself amused early on snowy mornings, but they came to be like old friends when I heard them, because I only heard them on snow days and then they were gone again like chimney smoke.
"C'mon, newsboy, deliver the news," Skitz blurted despite what I told him about shuddup. As a rule, Skitz always blurted, no matter what you told him about shuddup.
"What did I tell you about shuddup?" I said, trying to catch the announcer setting the lucky Ws free. Waltham, no school all schools. Wellesley, no school all schools. Winthrop . . .
"Newsboy!" he snapped, boldly.
I looked at him closely, though the window was snowing up on his side and fogging up on mine. He was awfully excited, the way a strange dog can be excited and either follow you home or chew your hands off.
"You want a smack?"
"I don't care," he said, and he didn't, and I knew he didn't before I asked.
"Nobody cares about the news at six-fifteen but you, Skitz, and right now nobody cares about it less than I do because I want to hear the no-schools to see if we got no school, so shuddup."
They were back to the beginning again. Abington, no school all schools. Acton, no school all schools. Andover, no school all schools . . .
They were killing me with this. They always killed me with this. Boston public schools, no school all schools was all they needed to say way up there early in the Bs, but would they say it? Like hell. They always waited, even if it was obvious, they always waited for three, four whole circuits of the Massachusetts alphabet before the Boston public schools would announce, because Boston had to be the belle of the ball, the Queen of the May, fashionably late so she had everybody's attention. Are the neighborhoods of Boston really more special than, say, Norwell or Northborough, Stow or Williamsburg? Okay, they are, but still there was no excuse.
Skitz, it had to be said, was being awfully good now. He was waiting outside that window just good as gold, framed frozen outside my window like a picture. A picture of a snow-crusted nutball.
And we aren't even Boston public school. God, no, we're private school, we're parochial school, we're Catholic school, which they reminded us every couple of minutes, but since it probably cost a buck or so to get your own separate listing on the no-schools report, we just tagged along with the decision of the Boston public schools and prayed that they came up with some good Catholic judgment at the right time. The diocese didn't have money to splash around capriciously, after all. Which was another something they yapped at us every chance.
I had similar problems myself, and if I didn't get my butt out delivering papers soon, my business was going to suffer. So it was down-to-the-wire, boots-on, hat-on time when the word finally came. Boston public schools, no school all schools.
I kissed my clock radio, gave Skitz the two-finger sign that was peace or victory or whatever but right now was no school all schools, and his big ugly head disappeared as he threw himself down backward into the snow with joy.
He was still there, on his back, when I got out to the porch.
"You're the ugliest snow angel I ever saw, Skitz."
"Ya," he said.
He stayed there.
"If you don't swing your arms and legs a little bit, there's no angel-action at all, you know. Just makes you a snow-doofus."
"Ya," he said. He still stayed there.
"Threw yourself down too hard, didn't you."
"Ya," he said.
I came down the two steps, past my stack of papers, and curled around to the spot beside the porch, beneath my window, where he lay looking up at me, his close-cropped hatless head embedded in the snow.
"You're mental, Skitz," I said as I crouched by his head and lifted him by his shoulders.
"Duh," he said.
I brushed him off, brushed off his head. "So, you're coming with me on my route?"
Excerpted from Sins of the Fathers by Chris Lynch Copyright © 2006 by Chris Lynch. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted November 15, 2008
Drew, Skitz, and Hector are a tribe. They've known each other since they were little kids, and you can almost always find them together. As a tribe, they watch each other's backs. When one takes a fall, they usually all do, because that's just the way a tribe works. They get in trouble together, quite a bit, at the Catholic school they attend. They can make up their own trouble, too, especially when Skitz and sometimes Hector accompany Drew on his newspaper route. <BR/><BR/>There's another tribe involved in SINS OF THE FATHER, though, and they're made up of Fathers Blarney, Mullarkey, and Shenanigan. Sometimes they're iron-fisted, sometimes they're full of baloney, sometimes they're just regular priests doing the best they can to keep three boys under control. <BR/><BR/>But Drew is worried when his tribe starts getting out of hand. The normally calm and cool Hector is acting strange, and when Drew suggests a possible reason for the personality change (involving one of the Fathers of the Church), Hector goes a little crazy. Skitz, too, who can never shut up, especially at the most inappropriate times, is talking even more than usual. <BR/><BR/>What follows are events that will put the boys' friendship to the test. <BR/><BR/>Although SINS OF THE FATHERS can be interpreted both literally and figuratively, this is a story that, ultimately, focuses on the three boys and their loyalty to one another. Being a tribe means watching each other's backs, yes, but it also means a whole lot more. For Drew, Skitz, and Hector, life may never be exactly the same, but there's truth in the fact that friendship can get you through anything.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2008
Sins of the Fathers is a thought provoking book and allows you to see the inner workings of a powerful friendship shared between 3 boys. I enjoyed the story but felt as though I was still waiting for the book to catch pace with my ideas and thoughts provocked by the book itself. It was never tied together and left me questioning what was going on. The end allows you to come to your own conclusions 'though appearing an optimistic end' I still lacked closure. I wanted to know what really went on in the book. If I had wanted to guess the ending, I wouldent have finished the book. My review may seem all over the place, but that is kind of how I felt about the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.