Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers

3.5 2
by Chris Lynch

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Three lifelong buddies struggle against the hold of their church leaders “Don’t let me fall behind” is the spoken promise between best friends Drew, Skitz, and Hector. The three teens live in a blurred church-school environment at the mercy of three priests who have an ominous power over them and their families. Together, Drew, Skitz, and…  See more details below


Three lifelong buddies struggle against the hold of their church leaders “Don’t let me fall behind” is the spoken promise between best friends Drew, Skitz, and Hector. The three teens live in a blurred church-school environment at the mercy of three priests who have an ominous power over them and their families. Together, Drew, Skitz, and Hector can get through the cruelties and power games of Fathers “Blarney,” “Mullarkey,” and “Shenanigan,” as the boys call them. Together, the boys can deal with any issue—until suspected abuse begins to threaten their bond of friendship. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Chris Lynch including rare images from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Secrets and their devastating effects is the theme of Lynch's (Freewill) intense novel that hints at sexual abuse by a priest. Narrator Drew, Skitz and Hector attend a Catholic school and have been friends since their first day, but this year, the year of their Confirmation, threatens to unravel the tribe. Skitz may be expelled from Blessed Sacrament, while Hector, ("the most Dudley Do-Right guy there is") acts as if he's guilty of something. Helplessly, Drew watches as Hector consumes excessive amounts of St. Joseph's aspirin. What is troubling his friend? When a young priest, Father Mullarkey, joins Blessed Sacrament, Drew is drawn to Mullarkey's unconventional opinions of religion and surprised by the man's nontraditional taste in music. On the same day that Hector, voted Altar Boy of the Year, misses attending a mass, Drew comes across a very hung-over Father Mullarkey. While talking in Mullarkey's private chambers, (a converted garage bay), Mullarkey makes what Drew feels is a sexual pass. Later that night, when a very drunk and stoned Mullarkey shows up at Drew's house to tell Drew he's been transferred, the boy begins to piece things together regarding Hector's anger. Told in Drew's sensitive voice, the story exposes the darker side of Catholic education, though one might question why Lynch chose such silly names (Mullarkey, Shenanigan, Blarney) for a book on such a serious matter. The book's humor and the depiction of close male adolescent friendship leaven the book's heavier themes. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
Drew, Skitz, and Hector, three friends surviving Catholic School together, stumble from adolescence to manhood with their enemies well defined: "It was the Franchise . . . the firm of Fathers Blarney, Mullarkey, and Shenanigan." Clothed in the guise of sanctity and authority, the three priests rule the boys. Unconventional, alcoholic Mullarkey appears to have the students' best interests at heart. "Father [Shenanigan] had a soft spot for single-parent, free-cheese-program families," and a fondness for adolescent boys. Monsignor Blarney appears to be oblivious to the sexual abuse but is quick to transfer Mullarkey for contributing to Skitz's alcoholic consumption at a hockey game. Singled out as "Altar Boy of the Year," Hector seems headed for the priesthood, but Shenanigan's sexual demands unhinge him. Unable to share his dark secret with Skitz and Drew, he says pitifully, "I am falling behind, Drew . . . I'm falling." When Hector is hospitalized after a suicide attempt, Drew and Skitz vow to combine forces to try to save him. This dark, thought-provoking novel with its crude and irreverent dialogue provides a sad (possibly offending some) commentary on the Catholic Church. Parents are shadowy and uninvolved while the boys gobble St. Joseph's aspirin and RC Cola, contributing to Hector's physical decline. Their loyalty to each other is poignant in a situation where they have little or no control. The tyrannical regime of the priests invades every aspect of their lives with a pervading malevolence. It is a heart-wrenching but unforgettable offering from the author of Me, Dead Dad and Alcatraz (HarperCollins 2005/VOYA October 2005).
Three Boston boys--our narrator, Andrew; goofy Skitz; and pious tough guy Hector--have been together since they all started Catholic school at age six. Now they're 13, and a new priest has come to Blessed Sacrament, cool, rock 'n roll-loving Father Mullarkey. More than just a breath of fresh air, he's a tornado, and his presence encourages Andrew to start looking at the world around him in a new way. He comes to realize how important loyalty to his friends really is as he begins to question the nature of Father Shenanigan's special interest in Hector and tries to prevent Skitz, whose mouth runs faster than his brain, from being expelled. Father Mullarkey may have to move on, but the boys' friendship is what Andrew really has faith in, he discovers. This sounds like heavy stuff, and it is, but Lynch, author of Freewill and other notable titles for YAs, has a great sense of humor and a pitch-perfect ear for wiseass teenage voices. Every teen will be able to relate to the bonds that bind these boys together, and the sexual abuse is hinted at, not explicitly described. It's a fast, enjoyable, and moving read, related with rare wit and candor; Catholic schools may want to preview this carefully, though. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, HarperCollins, 240p., $16.99 and $17.89. Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
Andrew "Drew" St. Cyr, Hector Fossas, and Skitz Fitzsimmons are best friends and just regular kids. But life is beginning to take unexpected turns, testing the strength of their friendship. Fathers Blarney, Mullarkey, and Shenanigan are the Franchise. They run the parish where the boys go to school. Each is a spectacular mess of contradictions and dangerous secrets. But out of the three it's Father Shenanigan who is the most dangerous. He's too involved with the Fossas family, especially Hector. And Drew can't help but notice just how much his friend has changed. He's becoming violent and is also violently racked with sudden "health" problems. No one is saying anything. And everyone keeps turning away as Hector falls further and further behind. But Drew knows one thing for certain: He promised Hector to never leave a man behind. This is a deeply serious work dealing with, though never directly naming, the issue of child molestation and abuse by clerics. The violence that the boys suffer at the hands of the Franchise is disturbing and varied in its approach. Their isolation is palpable as their parents seem to exist only in allusion. What is most haunting is Lynch's use of pervading silence, a seeming gag order where the abuse is never witnessed but the aftereffects are undeniable. The ending is realistic in its portrayal because in real life sometimes there is no real closure and the bad guys often do get away with it. I highly recommend this book, but I will emphasize this is a haunting text that stays after you long after you have finished reading.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Three teens-friends since their first day of Catholic school-tease, pummel, and support one another in this story set in a working-class Boston diocese. The narrator, Drew, like his dad, is a skeptical observer of the ways that power plays out in the classroom and church; fatherless Skitz is one of those kids who is not going to stay in the system much longer; and Hector-well, something is really eating at Hector, the devout Altar Boy of the Year. The three have vowed to stand by one another, come what may. What comes is a growing awareness of the personal problems of the men who are supposed to be shepherding them through adolescence. Fathers Blarney, Mullarkey, and Shenanigan, as the boys call them, have an inordinate hold over their lives, both in school and beyond. The charming and disarming Father Mullarkey is a bit of a renegade and the two older priests engage in petty cruelties and power games. The evocation of parish life and parochial-school experience is pitch perfect, as are the boys' ribald camaraderie and sports obsession. As Drew's awareness of the priests' fallibility grows, so does the eerie sense that one of them is harming Hector in secret-and that the abuse may be sexual. This vivid, fast-paced, hard-hitting novel is no diatribe; instead it conveys with texture and conviction the damage that young people can be subjected to when adult influence goes unchecked. Overriding even this sad truth is the memorable depiction of the boys' friendship and the redemptive power of their deep commitment to one another.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Flanked by misfeasant and malfeasant priests, young buddies Andrew, Hector and the aptly named Skitz loyally stand shoulder to shoulder at the center of Lynch's typically funny, tragic, edgy Catholic School tale. The trio's lifetime pledge to wait up for one another come what may is under serious pressure, as Skitz is on probation after throwing a rock through a Rectory window, and the ultra-devout Hector won't talk about whatever it is that's driving him to consume so much cola and baby aspirin that he's been vomiting blood. Though the often-disastrous disconnection between Skitz's mouth and brain (for which ADD seems too mild an explanation) provides frequent comic relief, as do encounters with Father "I'm a Jesuit. I can do anything" Mullarkey, a hard-drinking, larger than life ex-carny on a Mission to infect the uncomprehending Andrew with his fervor for 60s rock, readers will come to share Andrew's keen anxiety about what's happening to his friends, and to appreciate the complex, push-me-pull-you bonds that link the three teens. The adults, particularly Father Mullarkey and his supposedly sanctimonious colleague Father Shenanigan, Hector's "counselor," come off considerably less well. (Fiction. YA)

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Open Road Media Teen & Tween
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Sins of the Fathers

By Chris Lynch

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Chris Lynch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006074037X

Chapter One

Prodigal Sons

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.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

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.   
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.

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