Paul is a devoted Mormon. He loves his church and what they stand for. There is only one problem with this. Paul is gay. This is a big problem in the Mormon church. I really loved Paul's character. I love that he was a science fiction geek who was obsessed with the show, firefly. He was a sincere guy that always stayed true to himself. My heart broke for him so many times while reading this story. Paul had to go through so much. He had hate coming at him from all sides. Not only did he find himself receiving hate for his sexual orientation, but also for his religion. We humans like our labels. How someone be gay AND religious? It has to be one or the other, right? Paul's story reminded me that understanding and acceptance shouldn't be a "one size fits all" sort of deal.
Paul's best friend, Chad, was also an enjoyable character that developed so much throughout the story. To be honest, he had to grow on me. I wasn't sure I would like him in the beginning. I wasn't fond of his choice in the word fag. He had a lot of growing up to do. But I have to admit his character was very realistic. Langford caught the true voice of a teenage boy in both Paul and Chad.
Most of the story we see through Paul and Chad's eyes, but several point of views from the adults in Paul's life were added to the mix. While I did like to see how Paul was seen as through these character's eyes, I craved more of Paul's point of view. He was really such an interesting character that I didn't want the story to turn away from him.
The Mormon church is a big part of Paul's life, so naturally the church played a big role in the story. I love learning about other people's lives and how they believe. My favorite part of reading is being able to step into someone else's shoes for a while.Read more ›
This is not a easy novel, and I suppose it's understandable why some, upon reading it, would try to force it into whatever particular shape they find easier to deal with. But the important (and for me, most compelling) thing about this novel is that it is DESCRIPTIVE, *not* PRESCRIPTIVE. The characters are forced to face very true-to-life issues and situations that have no easy answers. Paul's position is incredibly difficult: a homosexual boy who deeply and earnestly believes in his Mormon faith. Some readers would doubtless like to see Paul reject the reality of his homosexual attraction; others would be extremely pleased to see him jettison his religious faith. Two mutually exclusive "happy endings" for two diametrically opposed worldviews.
Langford, thankfully, does not buy into either one. Instead we get to see reality: a world in which Paul's pro-homosexual friends prove themselves to be just as bigoted and narrow-minded in their own philosophies as some of the anti-gay people in Paul's church congregation. Langford's world is much like the complicated, confusing, sometimes maddening world I live in, not some propagandist fairy-tale land; and for those who insist on a "happy ending," that world will probably frustrate commensurately with the real world. Langford raises the kinds of questions that most of us would prefer never to have to deal with--the kind that we may never find a definitive answer for. And this story leaves the characters with unpleasant uncertainties about the difficulties of the future--the kinds of uncertainties that most of have to block out of our minds in order to cope from one day to the next.Read more ›
For his debut novel, Jonathan has hit a homerun with this heartfelt, compassionately honest coming-of-age story of a fifteen year old's struggle with same-sex attraction. When Paul Ficklin realizes he's gay,he does come out to his best friend Chad Mortenson, whose been his best friend for many years. At first, Chad is livid and stays away from Paul.
When Paul tells his mom, he gets the love and support he needs, but when he is dragged to the GSA Club at his high school, he's torn about whether to continue to go or to quit going, as he is harassed by both straight kids and gay kids and even his LDS friends.
When Barbara, Paul's mom, confides to a sister in the restroom at RS, she isn't aware that someone overheard them talking and the sister spreads gossip to Sandy Mortenson, Chad's mom and the Bishop's wife. Sandy is upset that her husband has not confided in her about Paul's being gay and worried that Chad's friendship could cause problems.
Even though Paul is worried that too many kids and ward members will find out that he's gay, he still attends the GSA Club, then when an outburst from a student causes problems, Paul stops going. Paul has decided that his membership in the Church is more important and he attempts to tell the kids how he feels about being LDS and staying true to his baptismal covenants. At one time, he struggles with the attraction he feels for one guy in the GSA Club and confides in his bishop. When a student bashes him at school one day in front of the entire school, he feels shunned.Read more ›