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 the charismatic Reverend Amos King, whose sermons are filled with brimstone and righteousness. But every time Jude thinks he’s found the right path, there’s a fork in the road, and Truth seems to be in a different direction. 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 that challenge him. 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 whom 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..
Jude Conner is a young man, living in a strict religious community & struggling with the loss of his mother. Following the desertion of his father and the cancer death of his mother, Jude and Lorne are just two youngsters very much in need of the support of their local church community.
But Jude realizes he’s different. The feelings that he has for his friend Tim bring into question his blossoming sexuality, and Jude has trouble reconciling that with the strict teachings of his Mormon-like faith. Seeing the different resolutions for Jude and for Tim was really affirming for me. I’ve always felt that personal courage will generally make our lives more fulfilling in the long run and I felt that Tim’s lack of Jude’s level of courage led to their different outcomes.
As with all Robin Reardon’s tales this is a thought provoking work that is at times uncomfortable but focuses on a young man formulating what will be his character. There are people that I disagree with in this tale but they are presented fairly. They’re well fleshed out and motivated and it’s actually easy to see their viewpoints. In many ways the understanding that one gets when reading one of Robin’s tales can actually bring anyone to what I like to think of as a truly Christian perspective.
Personally I didn’t enjoy this as much as some of Reardon’s other tales but I think that was partly a function of my own state of mind and the extreme vulnerability I felt that Jude had. The book ends with a bit of a years later epilogue that worked for me though others have criticized it as feeling tacked on. The back seat writer in me would like to have seen part of that epilogue as an introduction with the more modern day Jude bracketing and looking back on (Revealing?) his earlier self. This might have made me feel more assured that the early Jude we meet would survive the tale.
Being somewhat aware of the 1950’s “Boys of Boise” homosexuality scandal, I was a bit surprised when Reverend King takes young Jude into Boise and I was pretty certain that my earlier suspicions about the reverend would prove to be true.
*** Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review