James M. O’Brien, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (07/16)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Hang Your Wraps in the Cloak Room!’ by James M. O’Brien, Ph.D. on Blogcritics.
Since I grew up in Catholic school during the 70s in Venezuela, I was quick to grab “Hang Your Wraps in the Cloak Room!” by James M. O’Brien, Ph.D. The story takes the reader to Elgin, Illinois in the 1940s, to follow a six-year-old boy as he begins his journey through Catholic schooling at St. Mary’s. O’Brien captivates the reader through his mischievous curiosity and innocence as he ventures into the mysterious world of Catholic priests and nuns within the Dioceses’ school system. His evolution from being the class clown with adolescent interests, to thoughts about the priesthood, is presented by the author filled with a sense of humor, and a heart-warming voice that will make the reader want to pause momentarily and re-visit their own journey through youth.
I loved O’Brien’s narrator voice. It totally wrapped me in a time travel bubble and took me back to the 1940s Catholic school system. As an author myself who wrote about growing up during the same era in Europe, I really appreciated learning about the American experience during WWII. The story flowed perfectly from one stage to the next. Characters were genuine, colorful, and real. I did find few small editing issues, which I must mention as a reviewer, but which did not stop me from enjoying the read. O’Brien did a wonderful job writing a memoir about his coming of age times, and I am certain that it will be well received by 1940s enthusiasts and memoirs fans. However, I wish he had chosen a fictionalized writing style to present his story, as it would have made the book more entertaining, appealing to a larger audience.
I found “Hang Your Wraps in the Cloak Room!” by James M. O’Brien, Ph.D., to be a cute narrated recount about coming of age in the Catholic school system during the 40s. The story will make readers laugh as it warms their hearts with nostalgia for their own childhood. Enjoyable, heart-warming read!