Inspired by local veterans, former BMS principal releases third novel

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BURRILLVILLE – Glendale resident and former Burrillville Middle School principal Dennis Kafalas has recently had his third novel published. Fortunate Son is a coming-of-age story about a high school dropout who learns some life lessons from a couple of World War II vets, Kafalas said.

“I’ve always been appreciative of not only our veterans but their families and what they go through – the anxiety, the worry, the relocating. I thought it would be nice if I could write a story of how much they are undervalued and unappreciated,” Kafalas said.

The idea for Fortunate Son actually came to him when he saw a couple of older men speaking with some kids in a garage in Glendale, Kafalas said.

“I thought what if I told the story from the perspective of a young guy learning from veterans,” Kafalas said. “He learns how to grow up and fly straight, and do the right things.”

The story follows the main character, Moe Richard, who impulsively dropped out of high school.

“He has no dad. He’s kind of lost. He smokes a lot of pot and hangs out with his buddies and finally his mom tells him to get a job,” Kafalas said. “He sees a high school girl walking into this garage that’s hiring for part time help. He wants to get to know her so he takes the job.”

The owners of the garage are World War II vets and over time, “they befriend him and straighten him out,” he said.

Kafalas started writing the book right after he retired from BMS, and it took him about two and a half years to write, he said.

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“I wanted to be respectful and make it realistic. I had people read it for me to get it right,” he said.

Kafalas has had two other novels published: The Whale Pirates, which he wrote while working as an English teacher at Woonsocket High School, and An Obvious Life. He also wrote an educational text called Inspired Learners Active Minds: A Guide for the English Classroom, and has had several short stories published as well.

He is currently working on a fourth novel called The Only, about a Black foster child, “adopted by a white woman in a town like Burrillville,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll get a nibble. It’s a tough business,” he said. “Publishers have a limited perspective on what they want. You know it’s all about what sells.”

Kafalas said he’s proud that Fortunate Son represents veterans in an honorable and respectful light.

“Sometimes once they’re home, we forget about them, and they don’t get the respect they deserve,” he said.

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