Stick Man: The Long-Awaited Coming-of-Age Novel

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Overview

"The best coming-of age novel since 'Catcher In the Rye'..." (Literary Review Journal)

Stick Man is a coming-of-age story about a boy named Jeremiah Young who grows up in a bohemian household: "My childhood in Pittsburgh was one of extremes. First loves hung like photographs on the walls of my subconscious. They lingered there in my memory to battle their antithesis - Stick Man. I didn't think I'd make it to adulthood alive because Stick Man wanted to kill me."
Jeremiah Young is...

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Overview

"The best coming-of age novel since 'Catcher In the Rye'..." (Literary Review Journal)

Stick Man is a coming-of-age story about a boy named Jeremiah Young who grows up in a bohemian household: "My childhood in Pittsburgh was one of extremes. First loves hung like photographs on the walls of my subconscious. They lingered there in my memory to battle their antithesis - Stick Man. I didn't think I'd make it to adulthood alive because Stick Man wanted to kill me."
Jeremiah Young is an imaginative prodigy. He paints and plays guitar. His father is a bi-polar jazz guitarist and his mother is a pianist who keeps the family secrets. She yells at Jeremiah and wants him to visit "God's house" with her.
When Jeremiah visits Saint Joseph's Catholic Church for the first time, he has to leave early because he's frightened by the bloody man on the cross. He looks for God and finds the devil instead. This is the beginning of his idiosyncratic religious journey: "I gazed at the man on the sticks with nails stuck into his flesh. My eyes were riveted to the blood....When we exited the sanctuary, I looked up and saw the cross. The beams seemed to reach for me. For a moment, I was transfixed..."
That night, Jeremiah has a nightmare of the beams of the crucifix manifesting into a man. Stick Man. When he wakes from the nightmare, he has marks on his stomach. Jeremiah believes true love is the force to vanquish evil. He meets his first love, a girl he calls "Angel." When he's with Angel, his nightmares stop. She inspires him to write songs and awakens something in him that he can't live without. He experiences good dreams for the first time: "Her lips were wet. I was dizzy. She cradled my face in her hands.
Time slipped away..." They ride the rollercoaster at West View Park, the local amusement park. After the summer, Angel becomes cold towards him. The nightmares of Stick Man return to his dreams. Her departure remains clouded in mystery. A ghost visits him and tells him to find Angel again. He searches for her, believing she's the best antidote to Stick Man.
His journey brings him face to face with Stick Man and his search for his lost Angel in an effort to come full circle with his past. Jeremiah has dynamic interplay with religion - and the gradual, ultimate reassessment of his beliefs. He experiences his strong ties to his dysfunctional family and his unbending drive to make art.
As he reaches his twenty-first birthday, he discovers the startling truth about Angel, God, and Stick Man.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781456368685
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 1/7/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Rossi is a multi-medium artist. In addition to working as a writer, he is also a filmmaker, actor, singer-songwriter, guitarist, visual artist, and teacher. Richard is also an Academy Award considered director. His feature film "Sister Aimee: The Aimee Semple McPherson" was voted the number one spot on the IGFA list of the 100 greatest guerrilla films of all time and is available through Barnes and Noble, Netflix, Blockbuster, and Amazon. Recent acting roles for Richard include: the husband of the female faith-healer in the above-mentioned Sister Aimee (finalist for best feature in Milan), and an A-list director in the Hollywood tale Live Fast, Die Young, which led the Laemmle in receipts. Richard is currently finishing his feature film "Baseball's Last Hero: The Roberto Clemente Story." Richard teaches guitar privately and at Los Angeles Valley College. He and his wife of twenty-eight years Sherrie, founded Eternal Grace, a community of actors, artists, writers, and musicians in Hollywood. Richard lives with his wife and two children in Southern California. Stick Man is his first published novel.
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Customer Reviews

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( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2011

    Five Stars Out of Five! Best love story and coming-of-age novel ever

    Wow, I'm reading this book for the second time and all I can say is if you have ever fallen in love or longed for love, you must read this book. I love the main character Jeremiah, a courageous boy growing up in Pittsburgh who is a hopeless romantic in the best sense of the word. He falls in love with a girl he calls Angel. Jeremiah is a tortured teenager until he can see her again after a long break-up between them. He looks for a God of universal love but he is controlled by rigid religion, embodied by a nightmare manifestation of the crucifix named Stick Man, and a reptilian preacher named Mordecai Rawlings. Jeremiah's father dies and this gives Jeremiah the determination to seek answers and find his lost Angel. Never before have I been so drawn into a story or the characters who are so detailed and real. You just have to read it to experience it for yourself. Thank you for writing this, I love you Richard Rossi. If you ever are in Florida, I'm coming to see you and get you to sign my copy.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    This book was a healing experience for me to read

    I love Richard Rossi and I love his protagonist Jeremiah Young, the Holden Caulfield for a new generation. From the picture on the back of the novel I could tell Richard Rossi is not only a handsome man but a sensitive soul to write a novel with so many feelings laid bare and raw. My therapist actually recommended this for me to read because I grew up under a very strict church that made eveything fun sinful. Breaking away and recovering from the control of a man of the cloth who controlled me has been a journey of recovery and I was cheering Jeremiah on when he finally confronts the Falwell-type pastor and deconverts from fundamentalism to find his spiritual path as an artist. Richard Rossi does something in fiction that I haven't seen a non-fiction book accomplish in terms of laying out a map for coming-of-age and for healing and advancing and growing spiritually. Buy this book for yourself and someone you love. It's deep, yet gripping and hard to put down.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

    Could not put Stick Man down...Wow! Best book I've read in a long time.

    Wow, I started reading this page turner and was hooked the minute Jeremiah encountered the monstrous Stick Man. The cover of the book made me think it was simply a love story and coming-of-age book. Little did I know the other dark aspects, such as the horrific mystery of who or what Stick Man is. Is he merely religious repression? Jeremiah's guilt and shame? Or something more tangible and sinister? I won't give any spoilers here, but if even a portion of this novel is semi-autobiographical, my hear goes out to Richard Rossi and his fictional alter-ego Jeremiah Young. But had not Rossi lived this childhood (and I suspect he did in order to write his detailed description of the dark side of evangelicalism), we would not have this amazing novel without Rossi's past brokenness and redemption. The book has a healthy theme of releasing the past and reclaiming one's self. I too grew up with toxic teachings from religious repression and this book enabled me to begin to heal. As Rossi's dedication states, it is a story for creative and wounded children the world round. I could not put Stick Man down...Wow! Best book I've read in a long time.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011

    Just finished reading it! The critical acclaim is well-deserved

    I'd heard the buzz about this being one of the best novels ever written, etc... and thought it was probably hype. I had heard of Richard Rossi's interesting personal odyssey from maverick minister to moviemaker in Hollywood and my curiosity got the best of me so I ordered it and was counting the days to get it in the mail and see if the media fawning over this novel was deserved or not. I just finished the book and to give you an indication of how gripping it was, I started reading last night after dinner, and I stayed up the entire night to finish it. I'm not a super emotional guy, but this book got me in touch with so many feelings, the way it's written from the main character Jeremiah's personal point-of-view, enabled me to feel everything he was feeling: the fear of Stick Man, the love and longing for Angel, the obsession to find her, and his conclusions at the end of the book about love, and life, romance, and God echo what I have come to believe. Not everyone will agree with everything in this story, but everyone will relate to Jeremiah's courage to overcome the mistreatment he experiences and find his way back to a peace within himself and a universal love. I too give it five stars out of five! *****

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    This novel is really good, you have to read it, trust me:)

    What is art? To me, art is at it's best and most pure, when it is something the artist must do, something he must express from his soul. This is the type of novel "Stick Man" is. Richard Rossi had to write this from his beautiful, amazing, sensitive soul. This novel speaks to with alot of emotion and it's very relatable. I went through alot of things the main character went through. (The rules and control of religion, fallling in love then losing that person and not having closure, breaking free to figure out what I believe and trying to find myself) My dream is to one day meet Rich Rossi and tell him how much this novel means to me. This book is really good.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    Richard Rossi gave me an artgasm, omg!

    Richard Rossi gave me an artgasm, omg! An artgasm is an overwhelming emotional and hyper-orgasmic experience of a truly fabulous and original work of art. Richard Rossi is one of the great artists. He describes the sexual chemistry and connection between Jeremiah and Angel, the two main characters so poetically, metaphorically, and symbolically it blew me away like no novel ever has. It's hot, but it's art, not porn. I felt intense sexual feelings reading this novel. I highlighted a lot of the passages describing the love between Jeremiah and Angel. The way Rossi put us in Jeremiah's head by writing in the first person helped me revisit and release the pain and sadness of my own childhood and coming-of-age. Stick Man escorted me on an incredible journey of happiness as well, and the lessons learned about love and life and faith by Jeremiah lingered with me for days as I meditated on them. The things you learn at the end of Stick Man are the things everyone needs to know in order to find and sustain love. Stick Man is an awesome novel for hopeless romantics, dreamers, lovers, and spiritual seekers like myself.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2011

    I recommend this novel as a therapeutic story to help heal you from your past. ***** Five Stars out of Five

    As a mental health professional, I recommend Stick Man for the healing benefits of the story. Richard Rossi wrote "Stick Man," a fictional coming-of-age novel as a catharsis and healing exercise. A counselor told him it was a healthy way for him to release the past and reclaim his identity. Readers report this best-selling novel is healing them and as a therapist I recommend the novel to patients. Stick Man stands on it's own as a novel with universal truths that anyone from any background can enjoy as a page-turning story. But someone from a background in which religion was used legalistically to shame and manipulate will experience a tremendous catharsis reading Stick Man. Stick Man is the story of a boy named Jeremiah Young growing up in Pittsburgh. He is frightened by a crucifix and has nightmares of Stick Man, a monster made out of the sticks of the crucifix with nails for fingers. Jeremiah is further frightened by Reverend Mordecai Rawlings, a fundamentalist neighbor who tells him God created children in order to destroy most of them in hell. Deep down in his heart, Jeremiah believes God is more loving than religion represents him to be. Rossi refuses to say how much of the novel is semi-autobiographical but did admit his spiritual odyssey inspired his thinking. He was indoctrinated by fundamentalism for a while. He graduated from Jerry Falwell's college where he was taught a religion of rules and judgment. He saw firsthand the big business side of religion. God was reduced to formulas and three-point sermons that didn't work. Rich Rossi made a journey from legalism to love just like Jeremiah. I'm grateful he expressed this in his novel and helps others. Richard Rossi made his own therapeutic journey first, which enabled him to write the fictional journey of Jeremiah in a way that would lend a helping hand to other victims of religious abuse. Faith can heal people or hurt people. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. The journey from fundamentalism to freedom is what the story's about. There are millions of recovering fundamentalists out there and I am grateful Stick Man is helping others find grace, compassion and understanding.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    Highly Recommended! A must-read

    This novel grabbed me from page one and took me on a journey that enabled me to understand Sex, love, God, art, religion and myself better. The writing is masterful and the characters and detail are rich. Rossi is a storyteller who really knows how to take the reader to a transcendent place. I agree with the protagonist Jeremiah that there is a love inside us that created the world and can save all souls. Stick Man is my new favorite book!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Prose that is poetry on a sublime level...

    Richard Rossi first came to my attention in the late nineties when he was a maverick minister who became the target of protests by Fred Phelps, an anti-gay fundamentalist whose minions were calling Rossi a fag lover because he transformed a conservative Baptist church in Long Beach into a hospice to care for AIDS patients. In Rossi's arresting new novel "Stick Man," he explores a similar battle between a monstrous fundamentalist pastor who battles to control a creative and courageous boy. The boy's name is Jeremiah Young, and he grows up in Pittsburgh. The coming-of-age story looks inside the harrowing relationship between Jeremiah and three dominating figures: his manic depressive father, his fundamentalist neighbor, and Stick Man. "Stick Man" begins with prose that is poetry on a sublime level. "First loves hung like photographs on the walls of my subconscious..." the narrator begins, taking us inside his head as he remembers his tortured youth and obsession with his first love. The tale quickly turns frightening when the crucifix at the local Catholic church transforms into the titular nightmare manifestation Stick Man. Jeremiah tries everything from voodoo to exorcism to free himself from Stick Man, but nothing works until he meets a girl with matchless beauty he calls Angel who banishes his bad dreams. When she vanishes without explanation, Stick Man returns with a vengeance and Jeremiah must find her to survive. When Jeremiah's bi-polar father goes off the deep end, Jeremiah is taken in by the bizarre fundamentalist family next door who tell him Angel is "worldly" and his salvation depends on immersing himself in evangelistic outreach to save other children. The deeper Jeremiah is indoctrinated into the conservative Christian subculture, the more he sees the dark side of religion. Jeremiah determines to break free and find his lost love. His desire to love and be loved drives the story. Jeremiah jouneys cross country from Pittsburgh to California and discovers secrets that reveal the truth about fundamentalist faith. His reencounter with Angel is richly written as a cascade of overwhelming emotions sweep over the reader. This is a first novel by an author who is clearly putting his feelings on paper to guide others who are attempting to release themselves from toxic faith expressions and reclaim a sense of their own identity and intuition. Like Rossi's own experience with Fred Phelps, the book has already been banned and burned by religious hate groups because of it's gospel of unconditional love and inclusion. Rossi saves his most powerful revelations for the final pages when Jeremiah writes a letter to Angel about the lessons he has learned about faith, life and love. NEW YORK BOOK REVIEW by Elizabeth Wagner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    A GENIUS WITH AN OEDIPUS COMPLEX

    Richard Rossi has written a coming-of-age novel that is a work of genius. Stick Man started as a small, self-published book that is steadily getting out there through the cumulative word-of-mouth of those who have encountered it and know it's a once in a century work. A key to understanding the book is the fact that Richard Rossi wrote the novel immediately after his father died. The novel was penned in grief and is a working out of an Oedipal complex. Angel, the love interest of the main character Jeremiah (Rossi's alter-ego), engages in maternal nurturing of Jeremiah like giving him a sponge bath with a wash-rag, encouraging him to "tell Mama all," cooking for him, and treating him like a boy. The descriptions of his lover parallel the descriptions of the mother. Both women are included in the opening lines of the novel about first loves that hang on the walls of Jeremiah's subconsious like photographs. Rossi' father sufferered from mental illness and in Stick Man Rossi processes his repressed longing for a connection with his father and dealing with his father's mistreatment. Stick Man symbolizes the monstrous earthly father and the frightening heavenly father. I heard Rossi read excerpts of the novel at Santa Monica College before it was published in a creative writing class and the teacher, famed novelist Jim Krusoe said "Stick Man is a piece of writing that comes straight out of the unconscious." If you only read one book this year, this is the novel to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2011

    Richard Rossi's "Stick Man" is one of the best coming-of-age novels since Catcher In the Rye

    Richard Rossi's "Stick Man" is one of the best coming-of-age novels since Catcher In the Rye. Stick Man is a controversial new novel written by Richard Rossi about a boy growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1970's. As for Jeremiah Young, the protagonist and antihero Rossi has created, he is a teen with talents for art and music, but tortured with fears of the titular "Stick Man" and tormented with feelings for his first love. The novel deals with profound themes of childhood and adolescent angst, and how that angst is compounded by religion. The novel is written in a subjective style, from Jeremiah's point of view as he looks back on his youth. Jeremiah journeys towards his twenty-first birthday and reaches this milestone of adulthood more at peace with himself. He deconverts from legalistic fundamentalism, but in losing his religion he finds a universal love. It is a surprisingly brilliant first novel from someone who hasn't written even a short story before. Stick Man defines universally the experience of growing up, but also specifically captures elements of Rossi's own background, both as an artist and a former fundamentalist. The alienation of youth, the yearning for love, the existential questions and psychological battles of youth are all here in an inspiring and page-turning book with a complex central character the reader will find himself rooting for. At it's heart, Stick Man is a love story and a recommended read. Jeremiah and his lessons on love linger long after the last page is read. In the opening words of the novel, "first loves hang like photographs on the walls of my subconsious." John Schroeder

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    TRULY, A MASTERPIECE AND A CLASSIC

    Richard Rossi's best-selling coming-of-age novel "Stick Man" is a mastterpiece, not because it's flawless, but because it taps into universal archetypes and casts a spell on the reader. Every kid has his Stick Man, the sum total of all fear and shame. As a tribute to it's cross-over power and universality, I've seen women tanning at the beach reading it while drinking their rum swishers and calling it the "ultimate love story," I've heard pastors say it's the best book on religion this year, I've read therapists recommend it to patients, and I've observed in my own teenage daughter's reaction. Stick Man has a galvanizing effect on young readers. Stick Man is a classic. Rossi manages the difficult task as a writer of being both an adult looking back and a child looking at the world through innocent and vulnerable eyes. The world is never so frigtening, so exciting, so exhilarating, as seen through the eyes of a child. Richard Rossi took the materials of his childhood and transformed them into something universal, blending a child's point of view with the wisdom of adulthood. A great American writer, Rossi has penned an engrossing story, a work of art. Rossi has the courage and integrity, despite his evangelical background, to leave the world of black and white and lead us to the world of gray, where most of us live. Highly Recommended! ***** Five Stars Out of Five!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2014

    One of the best books I've ever read. The words are inspiring. T

    One of the best books I've ever read. The words are inspiring. The themes are not always pleasant, Rossi lays bare the mind manipulation of religious fundamentalism, the heartbreak of lost love, the pain of growing up. The end is worth it because of the coming-of-age of the MC, Jeremiah Young. The novel is ahead of it's time, and you have to be ready to read it. You have to find and read Stick Man when YOU are ready. Ready to come of age, ready to learn the truth about God, love, sex, shame, pain, creativity, and who you really are.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    Stick Man is a classic of modern literature. Teachers and profe

    Stick Man is a classic of modern literature. Teachers and professors like myself use the novel in our classes. Stick Man captures the essence of the city of Pittsburgh, yet it transcends the confines of regionalism because Rossi reaches past the rivers Monongahela, Ohio, and Allegheny. He soars above the bounds of his hometown and into the hearts of readers worldwide because he has written a coming-of-age novel that is now placed alongside "Catcher In the Rye" and other greats. The story of Jeremiah Young's odyssey through obsession with an angelic girl and his search for spiritual freedom from his titular nightmare nemesis is all the more profound when one learns the circumstances of Rossi's rearing and the rollercoaster lives he has lived. Writing this novel played a pivotal role in ridding Rossi of his own demons. The reader is sure to experience his own catharsis as well.

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    RICHARD ROSSI ESCAPED A CULT

    Richard Rossi escaped a cult. He was indoctrinated at Jerry Falwell's compound in Lynchburg, Virginia as a boy and it seems he based the right-wing preacher character of Mordecai Rawlings on Falwell and the vulnerable artistic boy protagonist Jeremiah on himself. Stick Man is probably based on Rossi's youth and how he escaped the cult of religious fundamentalism. Stick Man is a coming of age story about growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1970's. The main character, Jeremiah Young, is Rossi's fictional alter ego. He experiences falling in love for the first time and he questions what life and love are all about. Although the book has crossover appeal and is enjoyed by all ages, college students love the theme of Jeremiah turning twenty-one and seeking someone to love, a job, and a faith that makes sense in uncertain times. The book, if it was a movie would be rated PG-13 for some erotic themes and scenes toward the end between Jeremiah and his girlfriend Angel. The scenes are written poetically and tastefully but they are pretty steamy. ***** Five stars out of Five!

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