About the Book:
Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s
Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral.
They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
I guess you know you are getting old when books set during your childhood are deemed "historical fiction". Yet, in a very real way,The Priest and the Peaches is historical fiction. It doesn't feature a particular famous person of the era, but rather life in a working class urban Catholic neighborhood--a life centered on the Catholic parish and its school, a life where the Knights of Columbus were an important part not only of the parish but also of the neighborhood. It was a time when moms stayed home, when dads went to work--and then stopped at the neighborhood tavern in the evening. It was a time when Father (the priest) was as much an authority in the neighborhood as in the parish. It was a time when the typical Catholic still worried a lot about mortal sin and Mass was still in Latin.
The Priest and the Peaches is a book of hope. Even though these kids have lost both parents, with the help of God (and the neighbors),things are working out. Their dad's motto in life was "L-Y-N", "Love your neighbor" and in the long run, what went around, came around.
All of that being said, the book, though about Catholics, was typical of early Christian fiction. It was sugar-coated to the point of being unrealistic. The priest keeps telling the kids that God will take care of them, and He always does, and not in a way they can recognize only in retrospect, but the money to pay the bills shows up just in time. Every problem is solved quickly and the way you would want it solved. We listen to the priest explain that it doesn't matter if Pops was able to confess before he died, because Pops asked him (the priest) to hear his confession, but the priest couldn't do it right then. Since Pops wanted to confess, that was good enough. It turns out that the mean old lady downstairs, isn't so bad after all--and we listen to Father hearing her confession.
So, if you want a book that will remind you of your childhood, or bring the memories of your parents or grandparents to life, you may enjoy this easy read. If you are looking for a book that really grapples with the problems facing young people who lose their parents too soon, this isn't it--unless you expect all those problems to be wrapped up and over after a week.
I'd like to thank the folks at Tribune Book Tours for sending me a review copy of the book. You can read guest posts and author interviews via the links on the tour page.
Larry Peterson was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. A former Metal Lather/Reinforcing Iron-worker, he left that business after coming down with MS. He, his wife and three kids moved to Florida 30 years ago. Larry began doing freelance newspaper commentary after graduating from Tampa College in 1984.
His first children's picture book, Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes was published in 2011. In 2012, his full length novel, The Priest and the Peaches was released and he is presently working on the sequel.
He also has a blog (http://www.slipperywillie.com) where he posts weekly commentary. He lives in Pinellas Park, Florida and his kids and six grandchildren all live within three miles of each other.