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The Chartreuse Garden: The Horrific Murders of Innocents that Compelled Me to Fight Social Injustice and Hate

By

Not for me 😔

The story of a well-lived life that deserves to be told...just not by the author.

The Chartreuse Garden by Jack Castiglione is a collection of puzzle pieces-social justice, LGBT history, and personal narrative- that surely create a beautiful picture once properly joined together. Unfortunately for the reader, the promise held in the story elements are never realized. In reality, the memoir has notable holes and pieces clumsily force-fitted together. Castiglione’s perspective and insights are unique, true, but the poor editing is glaring, as is the poor quality of research. It’s unclear whether scenes for which Castiglione was not physically present are adaptations of recorded conversations or pure speculation on the part of the author. This is unsettling as he is, by no means, a novice writer. He’s written many an opinion article over the years, which perhaps explains why the story feels cobbled together from various shorter pieces. The final product is filled with errors, lacks narrative consistency, and the author’s inability to write from the perspectives of others diminishes his own relatability..


 Castiglione’s writing expresses sympathy for his cast of characters, but stops short of genuine empathy. Even Roy, the murdered child to whom this book was dedicated doesn’t seem to have a personality outside of his similarities with the author. The fact that he hasn’t forgiven his mother, the victim of recurring sexual abuse, for her desperation to keep him at home comes across loud and clear. In the very first chapter he claims that the bullying he experienced at the hands of his brothers shaped him as a person, but never meaningfully elaborates. Other than the scene in which his mother forbids him to join Cub Scouts, the youngest Jack we ever see is eighteen. Castiglione speaks his truth, but seems unconcerned with including anyone else’s.


There is a great difference between writing for oneself and writing for others. Pouring out his pain and anger onto the pages was likely very cathartic for Castiglione, but he is unable to make that catharsis compelling for the reader. Alas, The Chartreuse Garden might have been phenomenal in the hands of a ghost writer or a more talented editor. Yes, the book has value, but its value is far outstripped by its flaws. I do not recommend it to anyone without an existing connection to its events; general readers will find themselves more frustrated than moved.

Reviewed by

First and foremost, I am a reader. I am a Jack of all genres and master of none. I can't resist an interesting narrative or an intriguing topic, so I've read widely and regretted nothing.

Chapter 1 City of Carson, California May 18, 1973, 4:08 a.m.

About the author

Jack Castiglione worked on LGBT rights beginning in the mid-1970s. He worked to stop anti-gay violence, assisted people with AIDS, and engaged the Los Angeles Archbishop of the Catholic Church to change the Church’s negative view of LGBT Catholics and all members of the LGBT community in general. view profile

Published on September 16, 2020

90000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by