Foreword Reviews

Dodging Satan

My Irish/Italian Sometimes Awesome, but Mostly Creepy, Childhood

2016 INDIES Winner
Gold, Humor (Adult Fiction)
2016 INDIES Finalist
Finalist, Religious (Adult Fiction)

Epiphanies await Bridey throughout Dodging Satan, and such well-drawn, jaw-dropping moments are significant.

Kathleen Zamboni McCormick’s fictionalized memoir about growing up in the 1960s in a religious and dysfunctional family induces alternating chuckles and cringes. Its narrator, Bridey, grows from a precocious child into a teenager bent on rebelling against long-held beliefs, with a dose of sexuality thrown in for good measure.

In the early stages of Dodging Satan, Bridey’s devotion to her Catholicism borders on the obsessive. Fear of doing things “the wrong way” haunts her dreams. It doesn’t help that her parents—an Italian mother and an Irish father who always seem on the verge of killing each other—have different ideas about child rearing.

The novel is aswirl with inversions of first positions. Bridey seeks to follow the lessons of the nuns and priests at her school—up to a point. As she grows up, though, she becomes more cynical about her previously held beliefs and is no longer willing to blindly follow the tenets of the tradition. This disillusionment deepens as she observes her mixed family, its members continually at odds with one another. How could “GodtF”—God the Father—subjugate women to the whims of brutish, ignorant men? she wonders.

McCormick does an excellent job at portraying the conflict in a family where almost no one gets along with the in-laws. Bridey’s mother and three aunts run the gamut of behaviors, from totally submissive to totally feminist. Pop culture is referenced, especially the popularity of the Beatles, and is used to mark turning points for Bridey and her contemporaries as they become more actualized. Some aspects of Bridey’s budding sexuality certainly fall within the confines of the “creepy” part of the subtitle, as when she falls for a much older man, in direct competition with one of her aunts. Is this an exploitation of her youth or a declaration of her developing maturity?

Epiphanies await Bridey throughout Dodging Satan, and such well-drawn, jaw-dropping moments are significant for the ways that they promote a rethinking of the role of a “good little girl.”

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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