Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Was A Catholic Teenage Rebel

A while ago - a long time ago, really - my at-the-time best friend and I held weekly Friday Night Movie-athons in my bedroom as escapism of our freshman year in college. In was in one of these weekly sessions that we came across The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, starring Kieran Culkin, Emile Hirsch and Jena Malone. Because I had a movie with Jena Malone prior to this, I had a sneaky suspicion it might be worth watching. Also, watching one of the younger Culkin siblings act wasn't holding me back either.

The movie was worth watching and I wholeheartedly enjoyed it, as did my friend. Upon watching the credits - or possibly reading the back of the case - I learned that it was an adaptation to a book of the same name, by Chris Fuhrman. Needless to say, I went out to Barnes & Noble and picked up the only copy off the shelves - to this day, I haven't seen another print grace the shelves, which is both impressive for me and rather depressing for the rest of the region.

The book, however, sat on my shelf for several years before I picked it up and read it.

Fast forward about six years, I decided that I would read the novel that's set in Savannah, Georgia in the 1970s as seen through the eyes of a young Catholic school boy named Francis Doyle. Heart struck, Francis has fallen in love with the misfit girl, Margie Flynn. His best friend, Tim Sullivan aids him in his romantic aspects. But don't think for a second this is your typical YA, teenage-first-love babble. There is conflict when Father Kavanagh threatens to expose a comic book entitled "Sodom vs. Gomorrah '74," which Francis, Tim and their friends created. Ever smart Tim is quick to come up with a plan that might have deadly consequences.

Written in a way that envelopes you - through Francis' perspective - Chris Fuhrman was able to strip me of my jaded adult view and embodied me as I was several years ago when I was only thirteen. While I never had the opportunity to risk all danger like Francis and his gang did in the pages, I could easily summon memories of boys like Rusty, Wade, Joey and Tim. Not to mention first loves like Margie Flynn - girls I would've given anything if only to kiss them once upon their lips. In a sense, the book allows my thirteen-year-old self to live vicariously in the 70s, which isn't a bad thing until I have to set it down and return to my mundane existence.

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