CAST YOUR OWN SHADOW
a novel of personal and cultural identity
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Mother sobbed and hid her face. Ashamed and afraid for her son, she dared not describe what happened. But sixteen-year-old Danché understood. Guided by primeval tradition, he also knew what he must do. Even before the incident, he had visualized how he would kill Karalambros. Now, defending Mother’s honor compelled him to act immediately. Beyond avenging the policeman’s despicable deed, he hoped to achieve something he had previously believed impossible: winning his father’s respect. The boy had long rejected Mother’s persistent reminders to honor his father. That duty had been destroyed by ridicule Father heaped upon him on the rare occasions when he had been home. Instead, Danché condemned his father. He should have been here to protect our family. At sight of Mother’s suffering, the young man aimed his wrath not only at the lecherous Karalambros but also at his father and the ancient expectation that put a son’s obligation above a father’s merit.
...AND LATER IN THE FIRST CHAPTER
While Mother and Grandfather slept, the young shepherd gathered bread and hard kasseri cheese, along with three rocks that fit snugly in the sling he often trusted to ward off attacking wolves. Then he retrieved the knife Karalambros had arrogantly plunged into the dining table. Even in the darkened room, the blade was easy to see. Its polished metal quivered with an unnerving shimmer amid shadowy moon glow. He then crept down the ladder to the shed, where he searched for Grandpa’s Steyr-Mannicher rifle. The single-shot, falling-block-action Ottoman relic was effective because of its loud report and readiness despite age and infrequent lubrication. Grandfather had used it in wars against Ottoman Turks, but Danché had never tested the deadliness of its single shot. Though it held only one bullet, the boy’s adolescent arrogance assured its accuracy.
5 STARS Engrossing! By yadr on July 14, 2015. I was so excited to read another book by Mr. Pascaris after reading his first. His writing style is captivating; I could not put this book down. The historical and cultural nuances of the characters' lives are eloquently detailed, bringing the reader along for the many journeys in the book. I loved how the main characters were flawed and were not given easy plotlines. Thank you for Danche and Sosi. I look forward to your next book!
5 STARS Having worked in northern Greece in 1954-55 it brought back many good memories.
By Denzel R. Short on July 17, 2015. Very interesting book. I found the Greek-Macedonian relationships fascinating, as I did the development of women from a very submissive role to a more equal marriage relationship. The period depicted from the 1920s to after WW 2 was interesting including the invasion of the Nazis. Having worked in northern Greece in 1954-55 it brought back many good memories.
5 STARS: Read a compelling story about a family's mid-century struggle for the American Dream By Gail Boyd on July 27, 2015
I enjoyed reading this many layered and rich epic novel. The reader is immersed in Macedonian/Greek culture and customs and the immigrant experience in the American Midwest in the twentieth century. The characters are well drawn and compelling -- you empathize with this young, striving family and deeply dislike those who stand in their way. The dialogue and interaction between the characters make the struggle and sheer hard work to shrug off the past and cast your own shadow come alive. Best of all, this is a great story!
5 STARS: So many family memories brought back to life!, July 28, 2015 By Linda Tolias
Peter Pascaris' "Cast Your Own Shadow" was an excellent read from the first chapter until the very last page! The characters were well defined, and the historical anecdotes were incredibly accurate and insightful. As a "Macedonian-American", I was thrilled to read such a thoroughly researched and extremely poignant novel. The vernacular phrases and familial relationships were similar to numerous family accounts. I eagerly await Book 2 of the Danche and Sosi saga!
Hello, I'm Peter A Pascaris
Cast Your Own Shadow is my second published novel and my fourth overall. The adventure marks a departure from the mental health theme of Desert Lily but, like Lily, is woven with threads of family crisis and survival.
In ...Shadow we meet Danché whose boyhood suddenly leaps into manhood when he avenges his mother's brutal attack and becomes an international fugitive. His quest is one of identity, both personal and cultural, as he wrestles with mysterious rejection by his father and conflicting claims of heritage. Is he Greek, Macedonian or American? Why does his father treat him with such scorn and abandonment? Maturity is forced upon the young man, but his character lacks depth until he marries Sosia and begins a family in Post- Depression World War II America. Family challenges are especially difficult for this former shepherd who never understood family relationships. Stevie, his oldest son, exhibits symptoms of autism or Asperger's Syndrome, medical diagnoses that are not understood in the 1940s. As Danché comes to grips with estrangement from his father he is confronted by an inscrutable distance between himself, his own son and his wife Sosi. Another woman’s adoring praise tempts him to betray his fidelity. Not until Danché accepts Sosi as his equal does he begin to successfully tackle the battles that rage within him.
What follows the escape from Greece is an adventurous journey aboard nefarious ships and over rugged land across Europe. Then, in hope of reconciliation with his father, Danché illegally enters the United States, only to be rejected by the man he seeks. Now, as post-Depression America gives way to World War II, Danché must find the means to support his family as he and his wife Sosi struggle to accept their son Stevie’s autistic symptoms—a condition society has little knowledge of and even less patience. Sosi, who begins marriage as a timid child tied to a culture of obedience, finds empowerment and hidden intelligence through love for her children and her need to aggressively pursue her autistic son’s education. Through motherhood, Sosi grows in ways beyond traditional expectation to become a strong supportive partner to Danché.
Hard work and persistence lead to success until Danché’s father reenters his life, threatening the well-being of the small family. The gun that Danché once used to avenge his mother might be used again. If so, it could destroy Sosi and Danché’s lives forever.
A family saga spanning fifty years and two continents, Cast Your Own Shadow blends rich motifs of culture, ethnicity, a woman’s growth and acceptance, and a father-son conflict that threatens to span multiple generations.
Search keywords: Family saga, Immigration, Father/son conflict, Macedonia Greece, Women’s empowerment.
Peter A. Pascaris taught high school chemistry and mathematics for thirty-three years. He is the author of Desert Lily,a fiction memoir that tells a bittersweet story of love and heartbreak when his first wife, Donna, struggled with a mental illness. Like Cast Your Own Shadow, it spans a period of more than twenty years. During that time and after Donna died, Peter has been a mental health campaigner and is a frequent speaker to self-help and mental health advocacy organizations. Peter’s experience with issues he and his first wife faced provides insight into women’s concerns for personal growth within the family unit.
Pascaris is remarried and lives in Michigan with his wife Merrilee. Together, they enjoy a blended family that includes five adult children and four wonderful grandchildren. Outside of writing and mental health advocacy, his interests include baseball, politics, gardening, and reading.
Other of my writings have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online. An excerpt from Desert Lily won a Soul-Making Literary First Prize from the San Francisco Bay Area National League of American Pen Women. My writing has also been awarded prizes from Writer's Digest, New Millennium Writings, The Writer Magazine, and others. Before that, I taught mathematics and chemistry for thirty-three years, and had a textbook published by Allyn and Bacon.
Desert Lily is based on my experience with my first wife as she fought to overcome symptoms of mental illness.