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Father Dunn’s School for Wayward Boys

Kyle Hemmings takes us on a provocative trip into a blend of fantasy, psychosis, and the angst of boys on the cusp of adulthood in Father Dunn’s School for Wayward Boys. Through descriptive imagery the reader is compelled forward. A quick and yet challenging read, as we travel some roadways best kept locked within the soul.

~ Melanie Campbell, author of The Innocence Challenge.    

Kyle Hemmings’ book is both wicked smart and wicked funny in a laughing in a graveyard kind of way.  It is also dark and quite absorbing. The characters that people his book, and presumably live in his head, have a lot of creep factor going for them. Still, they elicit enough reader sympathy that I kind of wanted to take them all home and feed them good food. Okay, not all of them. Read this book, but not if you are alone in the house. That creak in the other room could be Hemmings’ imagination coming to life.

~ Lisa Cihlar, Pushcart nominee, poetry chapbook winner, author of The Insomniac’s House and When I Pick Up My Wings from the Dry Cleaner.

Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys is a multi-layered work in both form and theme.

Form-wise, it’s a hybrid composition: each of the twenty titled chapters stands alone as a complete nugget of a story; together, they fuse into a novelette. The first two chapters briefly describe the setting, mission, and chain-of-being hierarchy for Father Dunne’s School. They lay the foundation for the culture of the institution—a reformatory, with religiously-based prep school overtones—and the history, fantasies, activities, and bonding behavior among its residents as they sneak into basement rooms and forests seeking human connections and redemption.

Thematically, the work offers multiple topics for societal and philosophical exploration: the argument of nature versus nurture; the function and effectiveness of juvenile disciplinary institutions; the probability of moral and criminal rehabilitation; and the existence of a God or a higher power in the universe.

The book engages on a literary level, too, because it’s fun to read. Kyle Hemmings originality shines throughout in prose that’s fast-paced, slyly observant, and often humorous, as in these passages: “We fed him our leftover lives,”  “She might even be a saint someday, if they lower the restrictions,” and “He wanted to write a new version of the Bible with only blank pages. Then everyone could create their own theology.”

~ Sue Ann Connaughton, author







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