There comes a time in everyone’s life when they cross a threshold from childhood to adulthood; when they quit believing everything their parents and teachers tell them; and when they unexplainably devolve from being a nice, sweet kid to being a smart-ass. The year is 1964, and the day before TOMMY STOHLGREN’s twelfth birthday, he finally speaks up to the nun in religion class, proclaiming that if God was all-loving and all-merciful, then there could be no Hell. His logical reasoning clearly is unappreciated by SISTER MARY-SOMETHING, but it does raise a smile from his classmate, STEPHANIE CROMARTIE – a girl! Tommy notices girls for the first time, even as he is dragged by the ear to MOTHER SUPERIOR’S office. Tommy’s troubles are just beginning, but he gets a lot of help from his four ill-behaved brothers. JIMMY (13 ½), GEORGIE (10 ½), JERRY (8 ½), and BILLY (almost 7) attend the same Catholic school, and share the same bedroom in their small house in Oakland, California. The comical and introspective week that follows will change Tommy’s life forever! Tommy’s twelfth birthday is especially memorable. He gets a black eye at breakfast, a bloody nose at lunch, and after dinner, his brothers blow out his birthday candles, scorching his face with hot powdered sugar. However, in the school library that day, he discovers that age twelve is the Age of Reason. He begins to use philosophy and logic to question everything. Meanwhile, Tommy’s irreverent brothers and friends hasten his coming-of-age. The shenanigans of everyday life in this Irish-Catholic family are jaw-dropping and hilarious. Tommy’s mind fills with questions and doubts about the only religion known to the family for generations, even as he and his best friend, JOHNNY GIUNTOLI (11 ½), are practicing to be altar boys. A day later, Tommy and his brothers dine-and-ditch from an ice cream parlor. The following day, the act of confession presents funny and awkward moments with FATHER MURRAY (30), as innocent questions challenge the young priest. Friday morning, Tommy’s first Mass as an altar boy is a comical disaster where “Dominus vobiscum” conflicts with Do Wha Diddy. That afternoon at the Altar Boys Picnic, Tommy accidentally touches a girl’s breast for the first time, as his mind contemplates the existence of Heaven and Hell. By the end of the eight-day period, Tommy trades the chaotic shared-bedroom, for solitude Up on the Roof where he has a life-changing epiphany. He fully develops his critical-thinking skills to forever rebel against irrational authority, abandon his ancestral religion, and come-of-age, thanks to worldly lessons learned from his brothers. Tommy inaugurates his Age of Reason. Parents may help you grow older, but brothers help you grow up.
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By day, Tom Stohlgren is a Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO 80523, and Affiliate Faculty. He wears Hawaiian shirts every day to teach classes, advise graduate students, and conduct research part-time. He received a Bachelor's degree in Forestry from the University of California, Berkeley; Master's degree in Biology from California State University, Fresno; and, Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis. Tom is recognized as one of the top ten most productive scientists in the world in the field of biological invasions. He is invited around the world to lecture. He has published over 200 scientific papers and a textbook on methods of assessing plant diversity. In his copious spare time, Dr. Stohlgren is a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. He’s published five novels, completed two additional novels, written seven theatrical screenplays, one three-act play (a comedy), and thirteen scripts for a potential TV series. Two of his novels ended up as finalists for the Colorado Authors Award for Best Fictional Novel. His goals are to: (1) “See the world as it should be, rather than how it is,” as Don Quixote would say; (2) entertain first, and educate second; and (3) replace despair, panic, and gullibility with scientific reasoning, education, and hope
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