Ellen Gable’s newest novel, based on her own father’s experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a predator priest and her own experience of the consequences in his life, is difficult to witness. But we owe it to victims of clergy sexual abuse to listen to their stories. Listening, understanding, and awareness of warning signs are steps toward preventing such occurrences in the future.
Ellen is to be commended for her courage and honesty in bringing this story to light. Where Angels Pass is not an easy read – but it’s an important one.
In all the years I’ve been invited by authors to read their books, I don’t think I’ve ever had an offer come with a disclaimer: “maybe you won’t want to read this.” Due to the sensitive nature of this book, I understand why such a disclaimer is necessary, however. Ellen didn’t gloss over the details of the predator priest’s grooming of his young victims, nor the acts of abuse, nor the emotional fallout afterward that drove her father into mental illness, addiction, and dangerous behaviors. That disclaimer was more of a trigger warning, really.
Where Angels Pass shows another side of the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has come to light in the past two decades: the effect of abuse as felt by the families of the victims, extending into the next generation. What happened to Hank in high school affected his marriage, friendships, work … and his children, in tragic ways.
This story is clearly told not from a place of anger or revenge-seeking, but out of the author’s love for her father and for the Church. By sharing her family’s story, Ellen has taken steps not only toward her own healing from the trauma she faced, but toward helping others understand what life was like for one victim – before, during, and after the abuse.
Ellen explains why she wrote this book:
It’s my hope that the reader will be able to learn that just because a person has suffered clerical abuse (in this case, my father) does not mean his life had any less value than any other person. Did he make mistakes because of his woundedness? Of course, he did, because we’re all born with original sin and with free will.
And despite all these things that happened to him, he was really an incredible father and, I believe, made the world a better place (again, despite his nervous breakdown and alcoholism).
Most importantly, I hope the reader can understand that the Catholic Church is not an evil institution, and we should not leave the Church because of the sins of some of her members. One thing I didn’t realize until recently was how widespread the clerical abuse problem has been for many years. And while it saddened me that my father was abused, it breaks my heart that so many others suffered like my father.
Teenager Evie Gallagher is stunned when her 45-year-old father dies tragically and suddenly. Too many unanswered questions accompany Evie’s challenging journey to adulthood. When she finally discovers the reason her father led such a troubled life, shock turns to anger. She is determined to find justice for her father.
Nervous about the first day of his freshman year, 14-year-old Hank Gallagher steps inside Holy Archangels High School for the first time in September of 1954. Although the majestic Holy Archangels statues inside the school’s grand lobby present an air of protection, it is not long before Hank passes right under them and into the hands of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Confused and cornered by threats, Hank attempts to abandon his secret to the past, but a horrible wound on his heart eventually leads to a catastrophic breakdown.
Based loosely on actual events, chapters alternate between Evie and Hank to reveal a life haunted by betrayal and a revelation of true justice and hope.
More Stops on the Virtual Book Tour for Where Angels Pass:
December 3 Plot Line and Sinker
December 4 Jim Sano
December 6 Mary Jo Thayer
December 7 Carolyn Astfalk My Scribbler’s Heart Blog
December 8 Elena Maria Vidal
December 9 Victoria Ryan
December 10 Michael Seagriff
December 11 Patrice MacArthur
December 12 Amanda Lauer
December 13 Theresa Linden
December 14 Jeanie Egolf
Special release sale!
Only 2.99 USD on Kindle until Christmas! ($4.99 USD regular price)
Only 12.99 USD Print book until Christmas! (15.99 (USD regular price)
Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This article contains Amazon affiliate links. Your purchases using these links support my work at no additional cost to you.