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It’s 1955. Eisenhower is President and the Cold War is at its height, yet life on Sycamore Drive in the mid-sized city of Riverport, Illinois seems idyllic and sweet.
Much of the neighborhood’s social life centers on St. Mary’s Catholic Church, its parish school and a group of families that have known each other for generations. But then the revelation of inappropriate interactions with some of the altar boys at the church comes to light. Suddenly, they and their parents are at the center of the emerging sex abuse scandal, a drama that was unimaginable at the time. After all, the priest was seen as God’s representative on earth; the Church was believed to be incapable of harboring evil itself.
And so a story known to us all these years later began to play out, featuring the power and influence of the Catholic Church, the belief that an abuser could be safely reassigned after being sent off to be cured, and then the Church’s unparalleled effort to protect herself
The strange and unanticipated interaction between two families on Sycamore Drive provides the setting for the beginning of this story. It then grows to reveal a brilliant but eccentric neighbor, a courageous teacher at the school, a young priest who dares to look at signs that others ignore, and, of course, the clergy and church leaders who are either naïve or extremely irresponsible – or both.
A Note From the Publisher
"Debut novel focuses on a scandal in a mid-20th-century American town.
"An unadorned but cumulatively powerful look at the previous generations's Catholicism. Casper neatly evokes the ingrained societal trust placed in a church that was often busy hiding abuses and shuttling predators from parish to parish rather than expelling them and handing them over to the police. Readers will feel conflicting emotions effectively."
"A powerful read. With great stylistic irony, Casper does not shirk from addressing serious issues of the church and its moral character. . . . I wanted to read more.”
—SANDRA BRYANT, Teacher K-12
"A novel set in the 1950s, but as relevant today as ever. The abuses and coverup of the Catholic Church have spanned decades. Charles Casper’s debut novel is gripping and important.”
—JACK W. PERRY, Founder 38enso Publishing
"Insightful . . . a very good depiction of how the pedophilia crisis was mishandled by the Catholic Church for decades.”
—SUSAN FOLEY, Educator
“Casper bravely trespasses into the musty sacristy of the Catholic Church, shedding some needed light there and on the devout, hampered Catholics in his story. Using innuendo, he gives us an accurate snapshot of Catholicism in mid 20th century. “
—Tom Borders, Co-founder Borders Book Shop
“Hats off to Casper who can hold the reader’s attention with good language and character development on a topic about which much has been written. Twisted adult obsessions and stolen innocence are not easy topics. Casper’s craft makes them readable.”
—Martha Neal Cooke, Founding Partner, Hawley-Cooke Booksellers.
"I've just completed Sycamore Drive. Casper really knocked it out of the park. A very easy read, concise and intriguing. I can't wait to share the book with others. Great writing!"
—Reed Boone, Reviewer