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    films that inspire, inform, delight; books that inspire, inform, delight; baseball; gender/women's rights, issues, and representation; the outdoors

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  1. Kathleen J. Waites’ debut novel, The Faithful Ones (95k, upmarket fiction), is based on a true family story. The intertwined saga of a Philadelphia Army recruit’s sudden, baffling fall from grace and his devoted sister’s decades-long mission, to uncover why and restore his honor through the telling of his story, dovetails with national World War II-related events never explored in fiction. In 1941, nine-year-old Mary Hohlfeld bids a tearful goodbye to her beloved older brother Edward when the pacifist-leaning Civilian Conservation Corp veteran reluctantly heads to boot camp and almost certain war. Months later, Mary sits outside the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital waiting with her mother to visit her now institutionalized and much-altered brother. Edward is withdrawn, her parents and siblings are mum on the subject, and Mary is stumped. How did things go so terribly wrong in the life of Mary’s upright, generous, and artistically inclined brother? Her parents speak in tight voices behind their bedroom door, and her older brother and sisters disappear into their own lives. Mary writes Ed letters and tries to cheer him up with cigarettes, candy, and sketching materials. Channeling Ed at home, Mary stands up to neighborhood bullies. She carts the ice wagon and sells soft pretzels on the street corner to help her strapped family. Mary grows up following clues like breadcrumbs on a dark trail to a painful truth about the untrustworthiness of cherished institutions, and the wages of family secrecy and shame. Edward Hohlfeld can’t square duty to country with his pacifist conscience. Ordered to fire his rifle on the boot camp firing range by Sgt. Kaczynski, Ed refuses. This impulsive choice brands him a POW and lands him in a horrifying mental asylum. Naked patients are locked and packed like cattle inside a roach-infested dayroom with feces-smeared walls. Brutal attendant Buster Keating keeps patients in line with a chunk of rubber hose. Ed rails against injustice and struggles with self-doubt. Foggy-headed and terrified, he fends off attacks and tries vainly to protect his vulnerable young friend, Joseph Meyers. Hoping to expose hospital wrongdoing with the aid of parish priest, Father John McFadden, Ed jumps from a second-floor window and runs home. Hauled back by MPs, with the unwitting help of his father, Ed nears despair until he meets his alter ego in hospital attendant and conscientious objector Walter Sinclair. With a handful of other earnest but powerless conscientious objectors, they conspire to sneak out damning evidence of hospital atrocities to Life Magazine and blow the lid off the place—maybe even attract the attention and muscle of Mrs. Roosevelt. To do his part, Ed must rely on his faithful young sister Mary to get his sketches to the parish priest, while keeping her in the dark. Like Susan Meissner’s The Last Year of the War, The Faithful Ones explores an obscure corner of history through the eyes of a naïve observer whose life is tilted by a distant war. Although Mary is powerless to “rescue” the lost brother she loves, her search for truth and vow to restore his honor echoes T. Greenwood’s inspiring account of institutional horrors and the balm of family devotion in Keeping Lucy. Fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light You Cannot See will appreciate the lyrical language and how Mary and Edward’s parallel stories are weaved together. Inspired by a true story, this female-generated novel is a good fit for Oprah’s book club and Reese Witherspoon’s “Reese’s Book Club” and “Hello Sunshine” media group.
  2. Genre: Upmarket Fiction Author: Kathleen J. Waites
  3. 5. Hook Line (log line): A debut novel (95,000k, upmarket fiction), Mary’s Quest, a true family story of a sister’s pledge to restore honor to her disgraced brother, sheds light on an obscure corner of World War II history and the unsung heroism of pacifists that labored and languished in state mental asylums. 6. Inner conflict and turmoil with specific example: Mary is a dutiful daughter, but when she finds herself visiting her beloved brother in a mental hospital she is distraught. She wants her big brother back and craves to understand what is going on. But how? Her father is distant, her siblings, dismissive, and her mother refuses to discuss the matter or answer Mary's questions. Mary, Ed's only faithful visitor, struggles to get on with her life while helplessly witnessing her brother's steady decline in the hospital. What is happening to her brother, and why is it happening? With war on the horizon, the call for patriots is a strong one. Ed wants to prove his patriotism and please his exacting father who thinks Ed is too soft. A devout Catholic influenced by articles in Dorothy Day's The Catholic Worker, Ed’s conscience pull him towards pacifism. An internal debate ensues, but after being drafted Ed reluctantly reports to boot camp where his conscience continues to gnaw at him. Did he make the right choice? Secondary Conflict: As Mary grows up, she wants to forget about Byberry, the state hospital where the brother she adores is tight-lipped and disappearing before her eyes. At home, secrecy and shame shroud Ed’s predicament. Once the pride of the family, Ed is no longer discussed except in whispers between adults. His perplexed younger sister Mary is left trying to figure out how her once healthy, happy brother ended up in a strange hospital, and longs to help him. u fix him.” Final Assignment--Setting: 1. Port Richmond/Kensington, a friendly, working-class Philadelphia neighborhood, the two towns separated by a train trestle. Ed, unmarried, lives in a crammed three-story brick row-home, comprised of parents, older brother, four younger sisters and two cousins (taken in by the family) that he helps to support with his job at the nearby American Can Factory. The neighborhood tavern is a couple of blocks from Ed’s house. Mary, along with her younger sister and friend, collect coal along the railroad tracks to bring home. They also walk to the pretzel factory in center city at the behest of Mary’s mother to purchase, and then sell, pretzels to make money.The kids play stick-ball in the street, and everybody knows Tim McGee, the beat-cop. St. Anne’s, the parish church and the rectory where Ed meets with his friend and advisor, is a few blocks away. Ed takes the #52 trolley to and from work, and his little sister Mary greets him at the trolley stop at the end of the day, eager for the pennies Ed is sure to give her for candy, along with a playful toss in the air. Ed makes homemade root beer for the family and neighborhood kids in the back yard, and volunteers at the church carnival. 2. The train to boot camp, boot camp, the camp hospital, and the car on Ed’s ride back, with MPs, to the Philadelphia federal courthouse. The train, from Philadelphia to Camp Crofton, SC, is jam-packed with high-spirited but nervous GI-recruits. Boot camp consists of the clean and orderly but rustic bunkhouse where Ed and his best friend Chappy are assigned, and the firing range where Ed has his showdown with the sergeant. Just miles from Ed’s home and the promise of safety, are the hallowed halls and pristine rooms of the courthouse in the Philadelphia courthouse, where Ed is adjudicated as a prisoner of war. 3. Byberry is a fleet of brick buildings on the northeastern edge of the city. Impressive from a distance, inside is a different matter. The men’s wards are overrun with naked or ill-clothed patients who are corralled like animals, and treated like prisoners in a concentration camp. Except for the admission area and administrators’ offices, which are clean and well-kept for the public, the walls of the dayroom are covered in feces and urine and the flooring is deteriorating. The building is ill-heated in winter and suffocating in summer. One toilet room serves 400 men. The sleeping area is packed with filthy cots, and vermin have free reign throughout the building, especially in the cafeteria. The bunking quarters where the Quaker and Mennonite conscientious objectors serve as attendants is spartan but clean. Separated from the main building, it gives the men the privacy they need to hatch their plot to blow the lid off of Byberry, as does the nearby tavern-restaurant where they recreate and blow off steam from their high-stress job at their abhorrent workplace. The hospital grounds are dotted with picnic tables, and this is where family members like Mary and her mother, visit Edward—never seeing the inside of the repulsive hospital. 4. The bedroom in married-Mary’s suburban Fairless Hills home where she re-discovers and finally opens her deceased mother’s metal box that contains clues to the riddle of her brother’s Edward’s tragic fate.
  4. 4. Comparables: Similar to Susan Meissner’s The Last Year of the War, Mary’s Quest explores an obscure corner of World War II history through the eyes of a naïve observer whose life is tilted by a distant war in unexpected ways. Although Mary is too young to “rescue” the lost brother she loves, her quest to reclaim and honor him echoes T. Greenwood’s inspiring, heart-rending account of the horrors of institutionalization and the balm of family devotion in Keeping Lucy. Fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light You Cannot See will root for Mary and Edward and appreciate the parallel stories in Mary’s Quest and how they are weaved together.
  5. 3. Break-out Titles: 1.Mary's Quest 2. Honor Thy Brother 3. The Faithful Ones
  6. 2. Conflict/antagonist: Family secrecy and shame, as well as Mary's naïveté prevent Mary from understanding what happened to her brother and why. Family secrecy and shame also serve as an unwitting barrier to Ed's getting help and being freed from his dubious incarceration, as does his father's pride and inflexibility; institutional malfeasance and corruption in the form of hard-assed platoon sergeant, Sgt. Stanley Kaczynski, and abusive hospital attendant, Buster Keating. In some ways, Ed’s resolute attachment to principle also unwittingly contributes to his downfall.
  7. 1. Act of Story Statement for The Saint of Byberry: At the outbreak of World War II, an Army recruit inclined to pacifism struggles to survive his unjust imprisonment in a notorious state mental asylum after refusing to fire his weapon on the boot camp firing range. His mission to rectify injustice and expose hospital atrocities dovetails with a secret plan by Byberry conscientious objector-attendants to do the same. Ed’s quandary sets his devoted young sister Mary on a journey to uncover the circumstances that led to his baffling institutionalization, and restore his honor.
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