A House Divided: A Saga of the Sixties

Book Cover

HISTORICAL FICTION WAR POLITICAL

1960s & '70s

Kip Sieger

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Logline

What's a kid to do when his rabidly anti-Establishment sister rolls in from college while their flag-waving brother joins the army? With one sibling marching in anti-war demonstrations while the other marches off to boot camp, the turmoil gripping 1960's America wreaks havoc on Paul's young life.

Genre

Historical Fiction,War,Political

Short Summary

Paul's brother shocks the family by enlisting in the army at the height of the Vietnam War, offending their stridently anti-war sister. As Chris deploys to Vietnam and Mary marches to end the war, 14-year-old Paul struggles to make sense of the bitter schisms dividing his family and country.


Paul's youthful struggles grow ever darker as a series of eerie premonitions culminate with his brother being killed in Vietnam. Suddenly mired in a crippling depression, it takes his own brush with death and the afterlife before Paul can begin making sense of the calamities besetting him.

Setting

Suburban America, specifically the outskirts of Pittsburgh.

Based on a True Story

Yes

Plot - Premise

Internal Journey/Rebirth,Other

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Happy Ending,Twist,Philosophical Questions,Other

Mature Audience Themes

Language/Profanity,Sexual Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: Paul Milton

Age: 14

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Desperate,Engaging,Honorable,Funny,Modest,Strong Moral Code

Additional Character Details

Name: Chris Milton

Age: 18

Gender: Male

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Masculine,Confident,Honorable,Patriotic,Aspiring

Additional Character Details

Name: Mary Milton

Age: 21

Gender: Female

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Confident,Complex,Decisive,Educated,Sarcastic,Outspoken

Additional Character Details

Name: Nancy Milton

Age: 45

Gender: Female

Role: logical

Key Traits: Faithful,Educated,Skillful,Strong Moral Code,Confident

Development Pitch

A House Divided would make a compelling film for myriad reasons. An engaging cast of characters brings the Vietnam War era’s struggles to life - appealing to the baby-boom generation who lived through them, as well as those just now coming of age. With groovy, radicalized sister Mary opposing the war, and macho brother Chris - badly jilted on the football field - enlisting in the army, 14-year-old Paul is left to make sense of the bitter tumult dividing his family and country. An aspiring runner and ardent baseball fan, Paul represents a kind of lost innocence, trying to decide where he stands on the day’s contentious issues even as he seeks frequent respite with his band of mischievous friends. Spanning 1967-68 - including the Summer of Love, TET Offensive, and shocking assassinations of MLK and Bobby Kennedy - the once carefree Paul’s struggles to understand these upheavals while also navigating the standard coming-of-age challenges of high school and budding romance. His struggles are further complicated by a series of disturbing premonitions he tries to shrug off - until they culminate in a nightmarish - and eerily prescient - dream of his brother being killed while on patrol in Vietnam. With a deepening despondency coupled with a suffocating guilt - what if his dream had somehow caused his brother’s death? - it takes Paul’s own unexpected brush with death and subsequent encounter with the after-life before he is able to come to grips with these tumultuous events.

About The Author

Growing up in the shadows of Pittsburgh in the 1960’s, I was afforded a kids-eye view of the Beatles, Beach Boys and Major League Baseball, as well as such decade-defining events as the Summer of Love, Civil Rights demonstrations, the Vietnam War and LBJ’s announcement not to seek re-election – as well as the jolting assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. In this, I was immersed in the kind of soaring hopes and bitter disillusionment which defined a generation. As such, it is safe to say "A House Divided" began gestating years before taking shape in its current form. In addition to writing, I am a Social Studies and P.E. Teacher; avid runner, history buff, political junkie and erstwhile Frisbee player. I live with my wife near Austin, TX, and when not teaching writing, or running, I enjoy visiting our three daughters and lovely grandchildren in Downeast Maine and Houston, TX.

Target Audiences

Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: BookBaby

Year Published: 2018

Hard Copy Available

Yes

ISBN

ISBN-10: 1543920160

Genre

DRAMA, POLITICS, WAR

Brief

A teenager has to deal with the conflict between his two siblings, one a radical antiwar activist and the other a patriotic war enthusiast. When his brother ends up going to Vietnam War, his life goes upside down. After the boy is traumatized by his brother's demise abroad, a final death-defying encounter makes him see his life on a more hopeful light.

Overall Rating

FAIR

Point of View

FIRST PERSON

Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: FAIR

Pace: FAIR

Premise: FAIR

Structure: FAIR

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

Yes, it is accurate.

Draw of Story

The premise, which sets a fundamental conflict of the 60s right in the middle of a traditional American family.

Possible Drawbacks

Yes. The characters' personalities are too derivative and lack development.

Use of Special Effects

THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

Primary Hook of Story

The attempt to capture a period's contradictions through the story of a common family.

Fanbase Potential

Probably not a large fanbase, but it could be an impactful movie, especially if the drama is well conducted.

Awards Potential

It could, since it is a story that could call attention for its dramatic intensity, but many changes would have to be made.

Envisioned Budget

MEDIUM BUDGET

Similar Films/TV Series

FORREST GUMP - A MOVIE THAT TRIES TO CAPTURE MANY PERIODS OF AMERICAN HISTORY, INCLUDING THE 60S AND VIETNAM WAR, THROUGH THE EYES OF A SINGLE PERSON. LITTLE BOY - A YOUNG BOY WANTS TO DO WHATEVER HE CAN TO END WWII AND BRING HIS FATHER BACK HOME.

What’s New About the Story

To show how an age's complexities and ambiguities can affect a whole generation through a very practical example. But the characters could have more defined personalities to make it more unique.

Lead Characters

The protagonist is still unresolved and moderate in his actions, while his siblings are both strong-willed and aggressive in their beliefs.

Uniqueness of Story

Not really, the narrative still lacks complexity and a more particular development.

Possible Formats

Film - Indie, Film - Streaming

Analyst Recommendation

WORK IN PROGRESS

Justification

While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

There would need to be some extensive revisions to the story, adding more layers of complexity and giving the characters some unique traces beyond the "types" they are created to represent. It is very nice that the book is able to show compassion and understand these characters' struggles despite their radical thoughts and political positions, but there should be further effort to avoid reducing them to those sole aspects. Beside that, the narrative seems to solve its central, and apparently very complex conflict, in a seemingly easy, uninspired way. To represent a conflict that marked a whole generation, there shouldn't be a simple answer, but something unexpected, that would surprise and captivate the audience. The way it is now, it seems too plain and obvious, something that needs to change in order to enhance the potential of the narrative's great premise.