A Strange World

"Truth is stranger than fiction."

I say those words often when describing my chosen genre (historic fiction) to would-be buyers of my books at local book signings.  While a bit cliched, it seems to help audiences be receptive to this truth.  However, I hadn't considered how this truth could be used to deceive and cast a jaundiced view toward my latest book, 'Charlie's Ladder.'

Thus, I recently faced it head-on, penning a letter to the editor of the small town newspaper in which the book launch was announced.  Stranger, indeed...


A Letter to the Editor

Rumors can distort truth and tell big lies.  Rumors can ruin relationships and reputations.  Rumors can even kill.  What rumors can’t do is change the truth. 

Ten years ago, as I catalogued my thoughts and experiences – my heartaches and immeasurable blessings – regarding a writing project that would one day become my recently-released novel, ‘Charlie’s Ladder, I could not have imagined that battling rumors would be part of the experience. People objecting to the subject matter…?  Perhaps.  But outright lies?  That never crossed my mind.  It’s a strange world.


Recently, it has come to my attention that a particularly salacious rumor regarding the novel has surfaced, and is – like metastasizing cancer – spreading throughout the Thumb area.  I am telling you now, in blunt terms, that such rumors could only be spread by those who have NOT read the book. 

The Rumor goes something like this…

[Carl Reinelt must have been sexually abused by his parish priest, as an altar boy, because the title of his first work in a new series is:  ‘Charlie’s Ladder.’  Ahh, but wait…there’s more.  Because, you see, Reinelt follows up the first book about priests diddling altar boys with a second book titled, ‘The Last Altar Boy.’  It MUST be true!] 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Charlie Houden is, indeed, a victim of abuse…but not at the hands of the Catholic Church.  If you wish to know more, you simply need to read the book.  And, while child abuse is a theme in Charlie’s Ladder, there are other themes:  PTSD and it’s terrible legacy; the human struggle to find meaning in this life; coping with tragedy and its impact on faith; and dealing with the demons that rob us of our humanity.

By 1870, The Thumb was being populated by Europeans, many having served in the bloodiest war yet waged on American soil.  Those settlers brought their customs and superstitions, cultures and beliefs, fears and angst to the shores of Lake Huron.  Over the next decade the population grew, migrating from Port Huron north, to the tip of The Thumb.  Those who chose to settle in The Thumb would purchase land at twenty-five cents an acre under the Homestead Act.  Then came 1881…an infernal tempest in September that year forever changed the landscape and legacy of those early settlers.

It's no mistake that I chose The Thumb as the backdrop for a significant portion of the story. Turns out, child abuse has long found sanctuary in The Thumb.  Many European settlers to The Thumb brought with them all the toxic relationships that preceded their new accommodations.  In the sequel, ‘The Last Altar Boy,’ Charlie Houden comes face-to-face with the biggest secret of all:  the truth of his origin.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Put simply, Charlie’s is a story told in two books, unlike any you’ve ever read.  But please don’t take my word for it.  Let’s hear from an early reader, whose online review speaks for itself: 

“This story is so raw and insightful. It addresses an issue that affects everyone in some way in their life. The story unfolds with a beginning that draws you in immediately. Bravo for bringing these atrocities to light ! Not all families are what they appear from the outside. One of the best ever books I’ve read in a long time!”

In short, the Houden family – Charlie in particular – are each of us, on our quest for salvation.  Ultimately, Charlie discovers – as will you, dear reader – that  salvation comes at a terrible price…if we care about truth.


Follow this link to learn more:  https://carlreinelt.com/blogs/blog/the-story-behind-the-story-of-charlie

To order the book:  https://carlreinelt.com/products/pre-order-charlies-ladder


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1 comment

Not surprising that “gossip mongers would pounce”, and will choose to remain uninformed.

Vivian Shaw

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