Jude Connor’s rural Idaho hometown is a place of strong values and high expectations. For those who fit into the local church’s narrow confines, there’s support and fellowship. For those who don’t, there’s ostracism in this life and certain damnation in the next.
Jude wants desperately to be saved—to believe with the fervor of Reverend Amos King, whose sermons are filled with brimstone and righteousness. Yet it hasn’t been easy. It’s not just the forbidden friendship with his unconventional classmate, Pearl, or the difficulties of being orphaned and in his older brother’s care. There are the restrictions governing how congregants should behave, the whispers that follow Gregory Hart, a man who cares for his wheelchair-bound sister and offers guidance Jude sorely needs. And there’s Jude’s burgeoning need to decide for himself how to live, when to question, and who to love.
When loyalty doesn’t help Jude overcome his own temptations, he must confront the truth behind the church’s façade and his willingness to follow his own path—even if it leads him far from everything he’s known…
Review: I’d never read any of this authors books before. I saw the cover, looked at the title and thought it looked interesting. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This book is more of a coming-of-age book than it is a YA.
It’s the story of Jude from pre-teen all the way into adulthood, as he faces huge loss in his life. Growing up, in what I’m assuming is the Mormon church considering the way they referred to the church, was all Jude ever knew. After his mother died, he was forced to spend time with the reverend or bishop. After all, his brother couldn’t raise him, he had a family and life to build. So Jude is essentially brainwashed by the reverend and forced to spend every afternoon in his company.
Very soon, Jude realizes he’s different. His friend Tim and he have a different relationship, he feels different things with him than he does other friends. He’s also the only person that truly understands Jude, that is until everything hits the fan and they embark on a relationship both know is forbidden.
What follows is the story of how Jude fights these feelings, how the bishop uses Jude as a way to push away his own sin–and in the end how Jude finally finds freedom in being who he needs to be.
I was really put off when I first read this novel. The way the author described the church was more of a cult than a church. I kept trying to understand what Church would ostracize it’s members in that way. It was horrible and totally put a bad taste in my mouth. Then as the book progressed, I realized it wasn’t necessarily about the church, it was about how no matter who you claim to be in life, you’re still liable to sin, you still have baggage, and nobody is perfect.
Jude faced a lot of drama in his life, every single thing kept coming back to what he was raised in, the church, and what he knew to be right, which was people being treated as equals, people deserving love regardless of who they were or where they were from. I think the huge concept of this story is acceptance. Loving those who are unlovable and loving everyone despite their past or their actions. The people in the story who claimed to be perfect were actually the awful ones and vice versa.
I went from hating the story, to loving it, to hating it again, to really appreciating the point of view the author had on the subject of homosexuality. It was actually quite brilliantly done and didn’t just pounce on the church like it was evil, it showed good people who had good intentions and truly did love Jude.
I would recommend this book if you want something deep and thought provoking, definitely not the type of book to read if you want something easy and light. All in all, I liked it, but probably wouldn’t read it again, not because the writing wasn’t outstanding but because it really isn’t my cup of tea.