Book Review: Altar Boy by Andrew Madden

posted in: Recommended Reading | 0

(ed. Another review from our English friend, who adds: you can still read the intro on Amazon’s British site, don’t know if the American side has the same;
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Altar-Story-Homosexual-Catholic-church/dp/1844880397/ref=pd_ys_iyr3)

Though we’ve read and watched a lot of newspaper and documentary reports on the subject, I find it hard to relate to religiously organised, systematic child abuse as happened in the Catholic Church in either Ireland or elsewhere in the world, if that wasn’t the specific circumstance of your abuse then it takes books like these to even give you an idea.

However that does not limit the book’s potential audience at all, giving a firsthand victim’s-eye view of what such abuse can do to a previously solid and unquestioning faith. What Altar Boy does show is that the indecent assault end of the abuse spectrum can become just as damaging as the more extreme kind as depicted in Cry Silent Tears by Jo Peters.

However, Madden didn’t let himself remain a victim, the book depicts his taking on the Church with the help of the media including The British Sunday Times newspaper but, once the legal action was done, we also read of the process by which he got back on with life afterwards, mistakes included.

He’s also upfront about the effects of abuse with regard to his own use of alcohol and trying his best to hold together his relationship(s). He explains his feelings as a child at the time with no self-pity and how his relationship(s) turn out is a grace of god issue, in that we couldn’t really judge what we would do under the same circumstances.

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There is no fairytale ending, just pragmatism about getting on with life. The book is short and sweet (212 paperback pages) from this respect. Altar Boy is another abuse memoir where the kid on the cover is the author as a child, rather than a model and even though it’s five years old, it remains as relevant in the face of the change of Pope and the Church’s own efforts to be just a little more open on the issue (whatever you think of their efforts so far).

So it keeps selling, despite newer memoirs on the market, because it’s still relevant. Certainly give it a look in your library at the very least, because Penguin gave it the worldwide promotional treatment from launch

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