The Altar Boy

First novel by author

A dark tale of comedy, sorrow and the Catholic Church in the 1960s.

About The Altar Boy

Black-robed nuns, priests, bishops, the select fraternity of altar boys, and the ancient ceremonies of the Catholic Church. Music of the ’60s, boyhood shenanigans, Cootie doctors, and coming of age. Set in the socially and politically tumultuous period of the 1960s, The Altar Boy is the fictionalized tale of Paul Sanders, a funny, sensitive kid, who’s caught in the middle when his family is fractured by his parents faltering marriage and the appearance of a powerful priest. We follow Paul’s confusion and pain as he watches the pious façade of the Church fall away to reveal unholy carte blanche, pain and grief.

The book opens in the late 1980s. Paul and his brother down beer after beer at a favorite pub, trying to piece together their family’s chaotic past. The stakes are high—someone is about to return after a 20-year absence, threatening to re-ignite the family conflict. As the brothers’ painful recollections of their past become more traumatic, Paul drifts back in time to the era he tried for so many years to forget.

The story is realistic, poignant, and at times very funny. Stephens shines a timely spotlight on the then-unquestioned power of the Church, while taking the reader back to the ’60s era of rock & roll, Catholic schools, social upheaval, and boyhood pranks.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Great Read”

“This book is a great read and I highly recommend it for anyone. If you are Catholic it provides insight. Born in the 60s? It takes you back. There are plenty of laughs for everyone and thought provoking segments throughout.”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Time Capsule”

“Reading this was like opening a time capsule from the 1960s. It was funny, sad, and felt authentic, but most of all was a nostalgic read.”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Captivating Plot”

“Thoroughly entertaining and captivating plot with hard to foresee twists, ‘The Altar Boy’ is an engrossing family saga that tackles an ambitious re-imaging of history with intricate details that are honest, believable and relentlessly gripping.”

Enas Reviews

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