4 out of 4 stars
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Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian sometimes awesome, but mostly creepy, childhood is a funny, entertaining and liberating book written by Kathleen Zamboni McCormick.
The book has fifteen chapters and is told in the first person perspective of Bridget Flagherty. Bridget lives with her Irish father and Italian mother in a three-family house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is apparently way too smart, too analytical and too liberal for the nuns who teach them in the Catholic school she and her friends go to. At her age, she carries plenty of family secrets as well as secrets of her own.
Raised as a good Catholic girl, Bridget collects holy cards and has not only her own glow-in-the-dark crucifix and two figurines of the Blessed Virgin Mary inside her room but also a guardian angel font that holds holy water to ward off Satan and his snakes that sneak up on her at night especially when her parents are fighting. As young as she is, she starts to question the apparent systemic bias against women from the Story of Creation to her mother’s and her mother’s sisters’ relationships with their husbands.
Though the book sounds funny and amusing, which it actually is, a serious reader would discern the profound underlying issues disguised as a young and innocent girl’s spontaneous narrative including excessive and somehow illogical reverence for religious relics, gender roles as dictated by religion, discrimination due to sexual orientation and sexual abuse as perpetrated by familiar individual on unsuspecting and oblivious younger person, among others. Most importantly, the book depicts the impressionable nature of children, no matter how smart they are, and the harmful effects of domestic altercations to the mind of younger members of the family.
The author creates an endearing, relatable and admirable character in Bridget. Though she is innocent and impressionable, she is also smart, open-minded, observant and forthright. Her manner of speaking reminds me so much of Anne Shirley, the beloved character of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel Anne of Green Gables.
Moreover, I like the other issues raised in the book such as women’s liberation and the transitory nature of life. My favorite part of the book is the symbolic interpretation of the ‘apple’ or the forbidden fruit in the Story of Creation. The explanation reminds me of Robert Langdon, the fictional religious iconology and symbology professor in Dan Brown’s book series.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the book a lot. However, some parts which some readers take as funny may be taken as offensive and even blasphemous by others, particularly Catholic readers. They may take the book as attack on their faith and beliefs which may affect the overall readership of the book. Moreover, I noticed some typo errors within the entire book which are thankfully very few.
I, therefore, rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is funny, amusing, entertaining and liberating. I recommend it to readers who appreciate satirical books particularly religious satire. Though this is a coming-of-age novel, I recommend it to adults especially married women.
Editor's Note: The very few typos mentioned by the reviewer have also been corrected in the live version available for sale. The review copy was an advanced draft copy of the book.
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