- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1509830677
- ISBN-13: 978-1509830671
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,821,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness Hardcover – July 27, 2017
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Father Kevin O’Neill is the headmaster of the catholic school that Caveney attends. “Rev Kev” is the person he becomes behind closed doors, when alone with Caveney, a young and impressionable boy who is forced to navigate his teenage years not only dealing with the difficulties of being an adolescent, but with the trauma of being persistently assaulted by the priest his parents respect.
Caveney is brought up in Lancashire, England, during the 1970s. He is an introverted boy who has a vision for his future and a love of literature. Rev Kev uses Caveney’s interests as bait to lure him into his room at the rectory. It’s here where the priest shows the teen great works of fiction. It’s here where he also crosses the line into territory that should never be entertained, let alone explored. Rev Kev later explains his actions by twisting religion to his advantage, yet Caveney knows that what’s happening can in no way be justified.
At first, the two spend some time together, with Rev Kev drawing Caveney into his web via books and conversation, seeming interested in the teen’s future while also talking about his own past. Then, when Caveney gets drunk after tending bar on Parent-Teacher Night, Rev Kev takes the opportunity to bring him to the rectory, a decision that is the culmination of many others. Caveney uses his senses to describe the twisted events of that night. He notices the peculiarity of tongues as his mind races, this being his first experience with another person ever, and not by choice.
Later, Caveney will describe how harrowing it is to have your virginity snatched away from you, stolen in the blink of an eye, yet the memory will always twist and turn in your head. He describes how memory works when recalling tragic events. Some block it out. Others remember bits and pieces. Yet the truth is always the same. While being abused, Caveney does not know how he got naked, or into bed. A man he trusted had taken advantage of a situation, turning the word “trust” on its head forever. Ten minutes of his life will become a lifetime of pain. Rev Kev abuses Caveney while also charming his parents, talking about school and giving him excellent grades when his distress has caused him to lose interest in the rest of his classes, as he copes with being both a teen and an abuse victim.
Caveney also struggles with his faith. He thinks of going to confession, only to question what he will confess. That he was the cause of impure thoughts? He also struggles with the fact that the people he'd usually confess to are his abuser’s colleagues.
One day, Caveney is in Rev Kev’s office, drinking red wine. The priest states that he loves him. He tries to buy his affections and silence by taking him to the theater. While Rev Kev abuses Caveney, the teen makes sure to show that he is an unwilling participant via body language. Rev Kev’s love is not love at all. It is abuse and control. Rev Kev states that priestly celibacy is not about sex, but about not having children due to inheritance. He tries to get Caveney to feel bad for him, and the author states that he does feel some compassion as he is further manipulated.
Caveney turns a switch when with Rev Kev. For a long time, he is paralyzed when in the presence of his abuser, the man who controls his grades and standing at the school, and who Caveney believes may also control his future. He feels powerless --- until one day, he gains the courage to stand up for himself.
THE BOY WITH THE PERPETUAL NERVOUSNESS is an eye-opening memoir, written with such honesty that you feel like you’re sitting across from Caveney himself. It shows strength of character, and redemption in its most human form. Most of all, it tells the story of a true survivor you cannot help but be inspired by.
Reviewed by Bianca Ambrosio
It’s extremely well written – flowing prose and thoughtful diction – and it reminded me of Maconie’s dive into the depths of north-west England town life in its background commentary. Caveney’s memory of his adolescence, his battle with class and northern-ness itself, together with all the minutia of seventies life, is far keener than mine (we’re a similar age), and I laughed at a forgotten nuance more than once or twice. Also, the musical signposts were always a welcome reprieve from the terror of the author’s childhood; Caveney being sexually abused by his headteacher for years, careering him into an adult battle with alcoholism and depression.
I think it took an awful amount of strength to write this book, and I’m in awe of the way he has done it, respectful for his decision to wait until his parents were no longer on this earth to hear the truth – as devout Catholics they were so proud of the headteacher (himself a Catholic priest) taking what they thought was an academic interest in their son. The author feels he has sold himself short, that no matter how he has refined his sentences that deal with his sexual abuse, his words can not do it justice. He does an excellent job of trying.