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As a child, Gina Cascone would hide under her bed, in the closet, and run away from her parents, hoping somehow to escape her worst fear. But she couldn't hide from the awful truth...
She had to go to Catholic school.
Do nuns have legs? Is Original Sin the "starter sin" for novices? Can the rosary be said in under fifteen minutes? These are some of the questions that vex young Gina Cascone as she makes her way, grade by grade -- and prayer by prayer -- through the rigors of a Catholic education. All the answers can be found in this hilarious classic of childhood foibles: the traumatic first day of school, the dorky plaid uniform complete with matching beanie, glow-in-the-dark rosary beads, first confession trauma, proper dashboard decor ("Cadillacs got Jesus; Oldsmobiles got Mary"), and the race to save the most "pagan babies," who weren't lucky enough to be born Catholic and American.
During the nine years she spent at St. Lucy's Catholic School, Cascone, a children's author, gathered enough pithy observations and opinions to fill this short memoir. Enrolled against her will (she protested by hiding in a closet, under a bed and behind a sofa, all to no avail), Cascone endured her years at St. Lucy's by imagining what the nuns' legs looked like and other lofty thoughts. Seen through her not-so-impressionable child's eyes, Catholic school was a comedy of contradictions and questionable practices, including baptism, to which she cavalierly refers as throwing water on the non-consenting. Cascone writes with little fondness for praying Rosaries, kneeling through the stations of the cross and adopting "pagan babies," the practice of giving money to foreign missions so non-Catholic children could be raised Catholic. Her sole happy memory appears to be that of Father Joseph, who went easy on children in the confessional and always asked them to say a prayer for him. Given her own experiences, Cascone decides against baptizing her own child, fearing that to raise her daughter Catholic would subject her to the same education her mother had, even though the church has changed radically since her youth. Cascone's irreverent and often funny recollections would surely be pronounced as impertinent by the sisters who taught her. For that, they will delight many readers who underwent Catholic education as reluctantly as she did and considered graduation an escape from earthly purgatory.