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- Anene Tressler
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A reporter with KMOX radio since 1995, Kevin Killeen has confused listeners for the past ten years with his regular morning feature, A Whole ‘nother Story. Killeen has also authored the KMOX Holiday Radio Show, an original comic play with a holiday theme, for the past 15 years or so. In Never Hug a Nun, Killeen attempts to escape his declining faculties, by casting his mind back to the days of his youth when he spent long summer days on the train tracks or hanging out at the Velvet Freeze and wishing he were a teenager.
A 1982 graduate of UMSL, Killeen studied fiction writing under comic novelist David Carkeet who corrupted him with thoughts of getting published some day. Married with four children, Killeen enjoys asking his kids — again — to please, pick up their shoes, moving the sprinkler around a dying lawn, and going to garage sales on Saturday with his mother.
Kevin’s blog can be viewed at www.kevinkilleen.com.
Click to listen to a podcast of the Charlie Brennan Fontbonne Book Club event featuring Kevin.
Need a chuckle? Legendary St. Louis broadcaster Johnny Rabbit (KMOX) interviewed Kevin about his work, Never Hug a Nun, and about growing up in St. Louis in the 1960s. This visit includes Johnny Rabbit’s recollections of acting as Master of Ceremonies for a Beatle’s concert, and his day spent hanging out with the Fab Four. http://t.co/kV1Ie8EI
NEVER HUG A NUN
From falling for a girl with no-good-for-sports stick arms and beautiful penmanship, to jumping freight trains, smoking cigarettes, projectile vomiting, and robbing the local Ben Franklin, first grade at Mary Queen of Our Hearts parochial school changes everything for Patrick Cantwell. By the time Patrick graduates second grade, he’s practically a grown-up, complete with a broken heart, a police record and memories of the Beatles at Busch Stadium.
Written with the keen sense of comic timing Killeen brings to radio station KMOX’s “A Whole ’nother Story” and the annual Holiday Radio Show, Never Hug a Nun is a sweet, laugh-out-loud look at the innocence of childhood in the leafy Webster Groves suburb of 1960s Saint Louis.
Not Catholic? Doesn’t matter! The endearing antics of Patrick Cantwell and his friends transcend religion, race and political persuasion. Order now and we’ll send you an e-mail when the book ships.
If Webster Groves were Hannibal, Patrick would be Tom, Ebby would be Becky and the tracks would be the river. How often does a radio guy make you think of Mark Twain? Kevin remembers what it was like to be a kid. This is fun stuff and would be great for book clubs.” - Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Kevin Kileen’s utterly winning novel gives us human comedy in full measure. Blessed with a genuine comic gift, Killeen manages to write with both hilarity and humanity. The book is a buoyant delight from beginning to end.” - David Carkeet, author of The Full Catastrophe
“An engaging, funny, adventurous, warm and very nostalgic read. This is a book about memories, and why they never leave our hearts.” - Harry Hamm, KMOX Radio Entertainment Editor
“I really enjoyed this short novel and would very highly recommend it.” – Lori, She Treads Softly
“Written with humor, wit and from a 2nd grader’s perspective, Never Hug a Nun is literary mind-candy. Entertaining and quirky, Kevin Killeen writes decadently, fleshing out his young characters perfectly, and readers can’t help but feel empathetic towards them all, despite their antics. Quick paced, enthusiastic, quaint and sweet, it’s a trip in to the past where life was slower, gentler, but boundaries and limits were set and clear. Anyone who has been to parochial school will enjoy the narrative of Patrick’s school days and experiences with the Nuns, and older generations will be reminded of the innocence of this era…The laid back style in which Kevin Killeen portrays his characters, endears his readers instantly to them, with laugh out loud appreciation. From hidden forts, train tracks, first love butterflies, fairs, dodgeball at recess, angry Nuns, secret passwords and Frank Sinatra,Never Hug a Nun returns readers to an era where big cars, rock and roll and ice cream sodas reigned supreme, offering up a big, juicy slice of nostalgic bliss. A great anywhere, any day FUN read for all genres and ages.” - Claudia Robinson, Luxury Reading
“Funny and heartwarming, readers cannot help but become engrossed in Patrick’s life…The adult readers keep hearing a nagging voice telling Patrick to avoid the temptation, while the kids in us say “Do it! Do it!” Patrick’s adventures are typical for a little boy his age and we have to laugh at the strange situations in which he finds himself…Catholic readers will laugh and think back to their Catholic upbringings, but non-Catholics will enjoy the adventures as well…Any reader will be delighted by Patrick and his story.” – Josh Olds, Fiction Addict“What I loved reading was about how many adventures kids could have in a time when people were not keeping kids ‘safely’ locked behind doors or confined in a fenced backyard… Overall, the story is entertaining and Kevin’s wit shows in his writing. When I was finished reading Never Hug a Nun, I was left wondering just how many of the antics were things that he really did as a boy. I suspect he’d take the Fifth when questioned, though.” – Day by Day in Our World
Kevin Killeen‘s novel breathes life and nostalgia into a bygone era. You can almost smell the pomade, see the paperback James Bond novels, S&H Greenstamps, Frank Sinatra 45 records, the family’s Ford Falcon and hear the cheers for The Beatles. The story follows young Patrick’s life over the course of a few months, from Easter until Christmas. The book is filled with a balanced blend of humor and poignancy, structured in short chapters that are richly woven with period details and a pitch-perfect re-creation of the Roman Catholic Church of the 1960s (the rituals, tenets and mindsets therein) and how morality and faith were once the cornerstones of American family life. – Kathleen Gerard, KathleenGerard.blogspot.com
“I write to heartily recommend KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen’s new novel, Never Hug a Nun. It is a delight. The writing is wry and literate and touching and true to time and place and the boy’s perspective in midcentury WG. Sally Benson’s Smith family has nothing on Killeen’s Cantwell clan. I can attest to the authenticity of the settings because I was in the 4th grade at Bristol while the novel’s protagonist Patrick was in the 1st grade at MQP.” – Eddie Roth, St. Louis
“I felt like I was morphed back into a child as I read Never Hug a Nun. The author has an amazing grasp of how the mind of a child works…I was immediately pulled in to Patrick’s world as he raced to stop Ebby from jumping in front of the train but ends up jumping it with her instead. It’s the beginning of so many decisions that go the wrong way for Patrick. I spent the entire book chuckling at his innocence and hoping for him to be able to make things right….I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to know that everything was going to work out okay for little Patrick…I can’t [say] whether or not Patrick gets it all cleared up before the end, but I can say that I think his little character learns a lot of lessons about life, and even love, in this wonderfully written book.” – Stacie Vaughan, Simply Stacie
“Maybe it’s because my mother-in-law gave my younger son a similar coat with lollipops taped on them to bring to preschool on his birthday that I can’t resist this cover. And that grin; this may be one of the most perfect book covers ever…As the only female in our family, I find books written from the male point of view fascinating. I always learn something. But I did not need to learn what goes on in the boys’ bathroom at school; that scene just had me shaking my head- what is up with boys? And many is the time I wanted to say to Patrick- NO! Stop and think for a second, son…Patrick will probably grow up to be a protagonist in a Jonathan Tropper or Jess Walter book; fans of This Is Where I Leave You and The Financial Lives of Poets are the perfect audience for this book. Kileen bills Never Hug a Nun as a comic novel, but it has a lot of heart too.” – Diane La Rue, Bookschikidi
“…enjoyable … lot of laughs … a most interesting, but slightly edgy-humored story.” - Cynthia Archer, Goodreads
“Killeen touches upon many themes including the specific challenges connected to Catholic schooling, family relationships, peer and boy/girl relationships, and the culture of Middle America in the 1960s. In this way, Killeen manages something more than simply a comic novel. … I am struck by Killeen’s ability to write in a way that feels authentic, specific, and yet somehow universal all at the same time.” - Drennan Spitzer, Speaking of Books
“This book really gave me a feeling of nostalgia, many of the things mentioned in the story had me thinking about my own childhood. Patrick was an easy to like character and his antics, along with short easy to read chapters made this book a quick read. I enjoyed meeting the Cantwell family, who were an interesting bunch. From his brothers, John and Teddy to his aunt Jenny who may or may not become a nun. Overall, I thought the author did an amazing job of allowing us to see things thru a seven year old boys eyes. It was nice to be transported back in time when life was much simpler.” - Brenda, Kittycrochettetwo.blogspot.com
“Killeen has certainly captured the feel of parochial school, the changing Catholic church of the time, and the way in which the church was part of the very fabric of daily life for the devout very well. He’s also done a lovely job with a childhood first crush, showing the embarrassment and the conflicting emotions that such a crush meant in elementary school. And his depiction of a father who goes downtown to work every day to support his family despite the monotonous boredom of his job and a mother who maintains the home because it is her expected sphere is spot on, especially for the mid ’60s…It’s a quick, nostalgic read, especially for parochial school kids who have fond (or not so fond) memories of the nuns and priests and fellow Catholic school friends who peopled their childhoods.” – Book ‘n Around
“The story was thoroughly enjoyable and brought back many memories of my own Catholic education in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1960s and 1970s. The author clearly shows he has been there/done that and does so in a way that is both humorous and touching. At the same time, the story has elements which are as current today as they were then, e.g., peer pressure and bulllying. My only quibble is that I found it hard to believe these children were second-graders. I don’t recall having as much freedom at that age as Patrick and his friends had. Other than that, I think this book makes a great gift for baby boomers. I plan to recommend it to my 15 member book discussion group, which is based in a Catholic parish and which contains a number of teachers. I feel certain they will recommend it to their colleagues.” - Jo Bruccoleri, Net Galley Reviewer
“Patrick and Ebby were sweet as the dickens! Loved the way the author told the story through Patrick and showing us Ebby. As Patrick faced the life of a Catholic school student and growing up, learning and discovering, we, as a reader, get the chance to live that time through him. And what a humorous journey that was! Life’s not always easy, even when your 8. But, Mr. Killeen has captured it in a laugh-out-loud way, keeping the reader hooked until the end. If you love a good laugh when you read, then you should definitely grab this book up. It’s a 4 Book worthy book that will leave you with a new perspective on life. Well done, Mr. Killeen!” – Reviews by Molly
“In a cleverly crafted story full of reminiscence Kevin Killeen brings us back to the life of a seven-year old, full of humor, memories and humanity these vignettes provide a stunning and revealing sense of the world through a child’s eyes. Written as a series of vignettes, each scene is cleverly detailed with a balance of humor and observation that feel child-like both in length and in questions addressed with each situation. Touching on boys and girls, family, catholic school, friends and even the neighborhood, this story manages to give a solid feel of the middle-class 1960′s America, while managing to never lose the edge of the story of a young boy. I am not familiar with this author’s other work, but this book has definitely made me a fan. With a writing style that manages to both inform and engage, bring laughter at specific situations, and present detail and a more personal view in a way that feels all-encompassing to the reader, this was truly a winner.”
- Gaele, Net Galley / Amazon reviewer