From a hill above town, the Mount Kildare Orphanage for Boys looks down on the small city of St. John’s, Newfoundland. The year is 1960. The orphanage is always cold, there is never enough to eat, and the Catholic Brothers who run the home are heavy-handed in their religious discourses and harsh in their discipline. Here, a group of boys manages to look out for each other and live by their own set of rules.
By day the boys are obedient students, but when the sun goes down the Dare Klub rules the night: raiding the bakery; stealing sacramental wine; and talking endlessly about girls, sex, and the merits of Floyd Patterson versus Willie Mays. Above all, they help each other through the waves of loneliness and sadness that they all experience. Their secret society is their law and their family. But when the Brothers discover the wine is missing, they go on a manhunt, offering payoffs and bribes to any boy who will rat out the culprits.
To buck up the frightened boys’ courage, the Dare Klub’s leader, Blackie, creates a program of secret training for the annual St. John's marathon. The boys sneak out at night for running sessions in the hours before morning prayers, devising elaborate rituals to protect their secrecy. Leo Furey has created a classic coming-of-age story of dazzling scope and powerful insight, leavened with razor-sharp wit.
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