The Altar Boy
MEMOIR HISTORICAL FICTION
RELIGION, COMING OF AGE
1960s & '70s
THE WONDER YEARS; STRANGER THINGS; ALMOST FAMOUS.
CARL SANDERS: PROTAGONIST AND NARRATOR. ADVENTUROUS, NAIVE, WITTY, INSECURE AND CHARISMATIC.
MADELINE: 40. CARL'S MOTHER. COMES FROM AN IRISH CATHOLIC FAMILY. STRICT BUT LOVING.
DEAN: 45. CARLS' DAD. WORKING CLASS MAN. FUN BUT DISTANT.
FATHER JACOBSON: 40. INFLUENT PRIEST, GETS INVOLVED WITH MADELINE. CONFIDENT AND POLITICALLY SAVVY.
MIKE: 17. CARL'S OLDER BROTHER. HEAVY DRINKER. LESS NAIVE THAN CARL.
MADELINE: 5. CARL'S YOUNGER SISTER, PROBABLY DAUGHTER OF FATHER JACOBSON.
A dark tale of comedy, sorrow and the Catholic Church in the 1960's.
Target Gender: Female Leaning
Based on a True Story
Status: Yes: self-published
Publisher: KDP Amazon
Year Published: 2016
Based on the true story of a relationship between a married woman and a Catholic priest as seen through the eyes of a young boy.
The end of the story is that there is no resolve. After a family is torn apart the Catholic Church and the priest win. It is an illustration depicting the massive power of the Church in the 1960's.
Catholics and certain specific church's and schools..
Hard Copy Available
Mature Audience Themes
Plot - Other Elements
Meaningful Message, Philosophical Questions
Plot - Premise
Main Character Details
Name: The Altar Boy is the fictionalized memoir of Carl Sanders, a funny, sensitive kid, who’s caught in the middle when his family is fractured by the intrusions of a priest. We follow Carl's confusion and pain as he watches the pious façade of the Church fall away to reveal unholy carte blanche, cover-ups, and collusion.
Key Traits: Insecure,Adventurous,Charming,Desperate,Naive
Additional Character Details
Name: Father Samson Clyce Jacobson
Key Traits: Badass, Charming, Complex, Extraordinary Powers and Abilities, Skillful, Leader, Aggressive, Educated, Outspoken, Funny, Power-hungry, Unapologetic,Confident,Narcisstic,Educated,Leader,Power Hungry
Additional Character Details
Name: Madeline Sanders
Key Traits: Beautiful, Charming, Complex, Modest, Secretive,Insecure,Complex,Religious
Additional Character Details
Name: Dean Sanders
Key Traits: Underdog, Adventurous, Charming, Desperate, Funny
SUSPENSE, ROMANCE, DRAMA, RELIGION, POLITICS
Memoir of a boy growing up in the 1960s as he watches a powerful priest slowly taking his father's place and his family structure being crushed by the power of the Catholic church.
Authors Writing Style: GOOD
Franchise Potential: GOOD
Accuracy of Book Profile
Yes, it does depict the book.
Draw of Story
The innocence of a child slowly gaining awareness of what is going on around him in a dysfunctional family. His openness, vulnerability and honesty make him a charismatic character and we are drawn into his almost naive way of seeing things.
In the beginning, before the flashback takes place, the protagonist makes a remark about a woman's weight in a bar which is highly inappropriate and unnecessary to the story. There's also a moment where the protagonist recalls the violence he suffered as a child and affirms he became a better person for it, which is also highly questionable. The infidelity of dad is also overlooked.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
Being offered a child's point of view is something very appealing, not only on his parents' relationship and growing up in a catholic environment but also on historical facts that are background to the narrative. The soundtrack, with songs suggested by the protagonist, is also very well chosen.
I think it would have a large fanbase, as it's a sensitive and fun narrative and the protagonist is very charismatic.The time periods covered (‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s) may also bring along great scenarios and a much welcomed nostalgia.
Yes. As it covers many interesting decades and historical events, good acting, clothing and scenarios would enable audiovisual artists' to reach their full potential.
Similar Films/TV Series
THE WONDER YEARS; STRANGER THINGS; ANNE WITH AN E; ALMOST FAMOUS; SPOTLIGHT
What’s New About the Story
The story is very original because there is a contrast, as it shows the influence of the powerful catholic church in the life of a little boy and his modest family living in Connecticut. It also doesn't offer further judgements of characters, which are complex and dubious, or villainize the woman involved in an extramarital affairs. There are also moments where the narrative brings access to conversations where the boy couldn't have had taken part on. This should be corrected, to keep consistency. The supernatural passages, where the boy faces scary situations, are related to the feeling of insecurity at home, which is very interesting. This could be better developed, as it is a high point in the narrative.
Carl is a very vulnerable character and his view of the world is generous and candid. Madeline and Dean are highly vulnerable characters, with many good and bad traits, and it's hard to dislike them even though they've been harmful to Carl in many moments. Even Father Jacobson, the closest to a villain in the story, is shown as a man who had positive sides to him. He is also a very interesting character as he embodies the power, oratory and a level of hypocrisy of catholic church itself.
Uniqueness of Story
Yes, it is a rare gem. This story brings along several interesting subjects together - childhood in the ‘60s, supernatural passages, infidelity, broken homes and the catholic church - and the point of view of a child manages to make it light and heartfelt.
Film - Studio, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Streaming, TV Series - Network, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Cable
Because it is an original, heartfelt and sensitive story. Nostalgia, good soundtrack and serious subjects are brought together and washed by the lightness of a child's point of view.
Memoir of a boy growing up in the 1960s to a dysfunctional family. His involvement with the catholic church is strained as he watches his mom involved in an extramarital relationship with a priest.
What We Liked
This story brings the innocent regard of a child to serious subjects such as the power and hypocrisy of the Catholic church, important and shocking historical events that took place in the 60's and growing up in a broken home. Surrounded by a currently welcomed nostalgia atmosphere, the narrative flows through the late 50's, the 60's, the early 70's and the year of 1987. Supernatural and mysterious passages, The Beatles, the hippies and great soundtrack are background to a child's struggle to find security. In a naive way, he tries to understand the loss of his father presence and the complexity of events taking place on around him.
Film: One reason it would be a good adaptation for a film is the sweetness of a boy that, while immature, is open to the complexity of the characters. His parents and other relatives aren't considered good or bad, but people with specificities and who are seen and described with a very generous regard. Another reason is the musical and visual richness of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s scenarios described in the passages. Also, a more serious and reflexive tone underlies the whole narrative as it deals with the complex subject as the power of the Catholic church.
TV: It would be a good adaptation for TV because the narrative brings many interesting and fun passages of the narrator's childhood. Even with a plot involving infidelity, violence and a dysfunctional family, the story brings adventurous children exploring haunted houses in the woods, mysterious characters and scary passages, the development of the protagonist in a strict catholic school, his relationship with other kids and the discipline of catholic nuns, as well as careless moments of fun with his dad. It manages to approach heavy subjects and connect them with childhood memories that are rich and lighthearted.
Key points: Nostalgia; Candid childhood memories; Complex characters; Religious critic; Lightness of narrative.
The story begins in 1987, in Bridgeport. The protagonist and narrator, Carl, an adult, meets his brother Mike for a beer in a familiar pub in town. Then, he is told about the possibility of his dad coming back to town after many years. As his brother leaves to go to the restroom, Carl enters a deep journey to memory lane where he reminds himself of his childhood. He then offers a portrait of his family matters - mainly, his family being torn apart by his parents divorce and the relationship of his mom with a powerful priest - and growing up in a catholic environment through the eyes of his childhood self. His memories are separated in three acts.
The first act brings his early childhood, in the late 50's and 60's, on a house in Bridgeport, more precisely, on Broderick Street. Along with his friends from the neighborhood, the adventurous child fears the woods surrounding the area, but at the same time they decide to bother a mysterious woman who lives in the woods. He also travels along with his brother on a fun trip to his aunt's home in New England, from which they try to bring home a snake - and surprisingly, it gets lost on the train back. He then recalls being followed in the woods on a Halloween night, where he went just to get the candies dropped there by a friend. All those candid memories are surrounded by descriptions of heavy fights between his parents and the feeling of insecurity in his own house, at the same time he manages to develop good memories on his father's presence. The presence of Father Jacobson doesn't seem suspicious so far.
The second act of the memoir comes along with being enrolled in a catholic school, the Altar boy training and taking part as an assistant on masses - which brings along a certain status in school. There are also historical passages in the background, such as the first time The Beatles appeared on TV and the assassination of Kennedy. It also brings a nice trip along Wyoming and Michigan before his father presence becomes almost nonexistent.He ends up getting each time closer to Father Jacobson because of his close relationship with Madeline, the mom, as he also tries to suppress feelings about his dad.
The third act marks the end of Carl's childhood as he realizes his parent's marriage is over, his dad disappears from his life and he gets suspicious about the type of relationship his mom has with the priest. Aware that his house physical structure is being destroyed and his mom is struggling to make ends meet, Carl still manages to find relief in music. More interested on the girls around him and discovering rocknroll, Carl is no longer an Altar Boy, and thus is able to have a more critical point of view about the Catholic church and its power. This is the moment when he comes back from the flashback, and the realization of his dad coming back to town leaves a taste of more to come.