4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2009
This is again, like Times Queer, not a romance and not even a gay novel. It was probably tagged as "gay" (and I'm not saying that as a derogatory meaning), since people think at what was the following life of the author of this book, and they probably identified the 7 years old of the story with the author himself... maybe it's like that, maybe not. In every book there is something of his author, but there is also the evidence of a reality that maybe it's not the one experienced by him.
This is the story of a 7 years old, and I find still very difficult to think at sex linked to that age, above all to sexual orientation. It's true, I read just last night a book where the main character said that he knew he was gay at that same age, but I still believe that at 7 years old, more than a sexual orientation you have a vague idea of what is sex and what you are attracted to, the mystery of it more than the physical representation, the male or female body. There is no doubt that the young boy of this book (no name I believe), is forced to face things that make him question about "that", but he doesn't know what "that" is. His body is changing, and he is starting to feel something, parts of his body that before where only there, without purpose, now make him do strange things.
To the changing happening to his body, he has to add also the big change outside, he is preparing for the "Holy Communion"... another mystery, another strange thing happening to him on which he has no control and that he is not sure to like. Who represents it, nuns and priests, are no people he likes, and it seems a too big weight for his small age. After the Holy Communion you will be no more a child, you will loose your innocence... like doing "those" acts. The boy is not sure that it's something he wants to do, he is not sure that he wants to loose his innocence, in his mind the Holy Communion is not something good, it's at the same level with committing a sin.
And for the boy is not ended here, the only figure he trusts, the only person who seems to love him, his mother, has an accident and she is taken to hospital, far from him, right in the moment when he would need her more. It's not said, but maybe in his mind he is the estrangement from his mother like a punishment for all is happening around him, all things that he has no power on. The boy is involved in unwilling sexual acts with adults, both men than women, and everytime he runs away, scared. The fear for the unknown will be his salvation, not the Holy Communion: since he is not guilty, he has no sin, and he is safe.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2009
PO Box 8
Flemington, NY 08822
$ 25.00 2009
Fantastic and Informative Read
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD
This was one of the most informative books I have read about sexual abuse, the Catholic Church and growing up in a gay-lesbian world.
I found the author's words were passionate and compelling. Many do not understand this world and are not forgiving of those who have this life. Although I have had many discussions with individuals who choose this life, never have I thought about how it comes to be.
I felt as if the author were talking to me and giving me more insight into his world and thoughts. The passion in his voice talking about all who had taken advantage of him and at the same time the feelings he felt while trying to figure out who he was were quite informative.
It is quite interesting in how we seek what we want most - love. I have recommended this book to my Psychology students so they have a better insight into this world. We all seek love and attention, and if we don't have the correct information, we make bad assumptions.
The author gives us answers to so many questions and an insight into his world. I felt it must have been a great journey of searching and putting his life in perspective.
on October 30, 2014
Sometimes books stick in your brain because they are pure joy. Holy Communion resonated because it was horrific. But I'm so glad I read it. For a sheltered female raised by loving parents in a safe middle class environment, it exposed the underbelly of the opposite. Why read it then? Isn't there enough misery and sadness in the world? Because not doing so is like ignoring the cries of a seven year old boy who needed love and care but was denied it, either by intent or chance.
It's almost ironic that the only touches of affection and softness came at the hands of a person society deems the most evil. For someone too young to know right from wrong, how confusing would it be to discover that receiving presents and being touched "there" is shameful while being mentally, sexually and physically abused by adults, other children, family and teachers is, if not accepted, able to be covered up or ignored? What sort of a message is that? What if being touched by that man felt good? How does that affect the child's attitude to sex in the future? That's as much the tragedy of sexual predation as the physical pain that might be inflicted. But who is more to blame? The perpetrator or society that is so cruel that unthreatening, pleasurable attention from a man felt like a safe haven?
The main plot of "Holy Communion" involves the Catholic Church. Ironically, given the tales that have surfaced, church officials are about the only ones who don't sexually abuse the boy. Instead they inflict a different type of abusive torture, full of threats of dire retribution and instilling shame.
The boy is dreading his first communion because he has been told over and over again that he will die that day. Why? Because he has sinned. By the time the book ended, he couldn't wait for that day to come. All he wanted to do was:
"Go to church and be slain. Then it would be finished. He'd be able to sleep and not be afraid when he awoke that things had gotten worse. He'd be able to sleep and not have to wake."
And what was his sin? Buying a comic for a quarter and lying about the price to his mother to conceal the fact that he hadn't used the money for a school excursion because he had "made" it in class after being denied permission to go to the boy's room when he raised his hand.
"How many lies can one say in a lifetime? How many sins can be committed? Isn't the first one always the decisive one, since that's the one that dooms you forever? And what of truth? If it's a sin to tell a lie, is there credit or reward for speaking the truth?"
Around him, the "sins" that are committed against him by mean-spirited adults and children pile up on one another like layers of dung. Yet for all this, the story is not depressing because the boy is too young to recognize these greater wrongs. When you don't know anything better, you don't know what you are missing. Pleasure is found in snatched moments on the street, unexpected glimpses of kindness. Having his picture taken with his godmother's children. At that point of his life, he has never experienced anything different, so he doesn't know what he is missing.
No characters in the book have names. By robbing them of these personal distinctions, we are reminded of the roles these people take in the child's life: the father, the mother, the godmother, the nun, the young priest, the man in the comic store. The list goes on. Surprisingly this disassociation works brilliantly. Many of these people occupy positions of authority, but in most cases their actions are harsh, unforgiving, uncaring, frightening to a sensitive young boy who is still wetting the bed.
No wonder, when he has a father who beats and molests him.
The story is told through the eyes of the young boy and we get his bewildered, immature, innocent perspective, but occasionally like in the excerpt above and the one below, we see through the eyes of the man this child became.
"At what point in time does indifference and insensitivity enter a soul and stifle potential love and compassion and drive out altruism and empathy? Is there one sole event that occurs, forever making on possessive rather than generous, stagnant rather than growing, spiteful rather than loving?"
Brought up in this poisonous, confusing world where no one cares, it's almost inevitable that teenagers or young adults feel that nothing they do matters. Who cares if they scrawl graffiti, break that window, steal that car, rape that female, break that guy's nose? Who was around to care for them when they were vulnerable and alone and thus the cycle goes on.
This is why "Holy Communion", "Times Queer" and "Trysts" almost make up a trilogy. Even if they are different protagonists, different worlds, you can see how the confronting, almost toxic environment from one could lead to the other as the protagonist gets older. All three are worth reading, and as we do, what role do we occupy? The critical reader filled with perceptions of what a book should be like? What a person should be like? The unsympathetic bystander who is dismissive because his life was just as bad and he turned out okay?
In Holy Communion, Mykola Dementiuk has written a powerful book that is guaranteed to make you think. Well worth a read.