Title: Pray The Gay Away
Author: Sara York
Narrator: Jason Frazier
Length: 5 hrs + 43 mins
Publisher: Sara York
Release: 21st May 2015
Genre: M/M (contemporary)
Star football player Jack Miller had it all. The perfect family, looks, girls hanging on his every word, and the respect of most people in his town. But one thing was missing - a man to be his own.
When Andrew Collins showed up in small-town, conservative Sweet, Georgia, he looked more scrawny mutt than high school senior. Andrew's plan was to keep his head down and graduate high school, leaving his family behind to start his real life.
When he meets Andrew, Jack thinks he's found heaven, but reality holds him in check until one night when his lips gently slide across Andrew's and fireworks go off.
As lust and something a little deeper brings them together, compelling them to take chances, people start to notice. Then the unthinkable happens, and Jack's parents find out he likes guys. The battle lines are drawn and they vow to pray the gay away.
If there is one explosive combination that guarantees frayed tempers, ranting, unbelievable diatribes and preposterous rhetoric then it must be religion and homosexuality. Basically a potential minefield of bigotry and hate. Sara York’s Pray The Gay Away navigates these stormy waters on a subject that affects many and magnificently deals with an extremely sensitive issue.
Jack is the son of the local minister for Sweet and is the shining star and example for his high school football team. I mean seriously, you couldn’t get anything more manly than that and of course football is guaranteed to have no gays *rolls eyes*.However, not everything is as perfect as it always appears. Jack is gay and that in an area and in a family that are extremely religious, it would just not be accepted. He is also the eldest of ten children and his younger brother Billy at the tender age of seven also is starting to show signs of things that would not be considered normal for a boy.
OMG! Jack is the eldest of ten siblings. Ten children? Jack’s mother must be run ragged but she appears to be a strong and formidable woman, caring for her children as best she can, everything organised like a military operation. However, how far will she go in loving her children? Even if it means going against her strict religious beliefs? This still remains to be seen. As for the father? Well, no surprises there.
Oh my, when this book started it already had me in tears in the first chapter or so. There is just such a beautiful scene where Billy’s mother holds him in her lap and he tells her that he thinks he should be a girl. Geez, I nearly wept at this! However, this story isn’t about Billy it’s about Jack, although Billy plays a major role in the story. Jack’s story I guess is just one of many when religious zealousness is involved. The constant pain and torture of having to pretend to be something you’re not, always watching your back, covering your tracks and making sure you don’t do anything that will give your secret away. This is the horror and reality of gay teenagers growing up in such backgrounds.
A new family arrives in town and Jack’s father teams him up with the son of the Collins family, Andrew. They have moved to Sweet as Andrew was caught *shock and horror* kissing a boy and they’re trying to make sure he doesn't fall into these sinful ways again. This is completely abominable, disgusting and perverted behaviour in the eyes of Andrew’s parents. Andrew’s story is even more heart breaking. His parents have been abusing him, not physically, but there are all kinds of abuse and it’s all justified in the name of doing God’s work and trying to exorcise him of his evil affliction. My what a pair of lunatics Andrew’s parents are. I hated them, I hurt for Andrew, I wanted to beat them, it just left me speechless, sad and dumbfounded at how any parent can do this to their own child. Nothing can be said of love here.
The two boys first of all form a friendship but the physical attraction is there and at first they both try to hide it from each other. Until the first tentative questions are asked and signals given which leaves no doubt that there is something going on that is more than friendship. I didn’t find it was exactly insta-love as you have to remember that they are two horny 18 year old teenagers being denied what they really want to do. I mean any 18 year old boy is as horny as hell and having to live in a cast iron closet can’t be easy for either of them. I think to enjoy this book you really have to put yourself back to being eighteen again. Yes, it can be argued that the dialogues were a little cheesy but to be honest when I was eighteen and had my first real love I dread to think what cheesy, romantic drivel was coming out of my mouth at the time too - lol! So I could cope with this no problem to be honest as they are two teenagers with their first big love, promising forevers and a day to each other plus having to cope with keeping everything unconditionally under wraps. So in a way beautiful to see that at least they have each other for support and due to this probably have to be a lot more mature than most for their age.
It’s not long though before the closet explodes as you can only keep such an attraction secret for so long. You are bound to slip up at some time as Jack does. When his father finds out then I was really shocked! It’s horrifying but also realistic at the same time that these attitudes exist. How anyone can be so caught up in religion that they lose sight of the basic love and care for their own children is just beyond words for me. I just wanted to run in there and tell the boys to run away, run away as far as they can to escape all this abuse. Hell, I would have even given them a room at my place and taken care of them. Both boys are so sweet, they don’t deserve this but standing up to your parents is never easy, the love is still there even if in a subservient form and some parents don’t deserve the love of their children. This is especially true of Jack’s and Andrew’s parents for sure. Of course this is all exacerbated when Jack confronts his mum with all the lies his father has been telling everyone in the name of being the “perfect” family.
The book ended a little abruptly for me too as I hadn’t realised there is a second book. I was left so afraid for little Billy and what his father threatened to do to him if Jack doesn’t change his ways. Jack’s mother is not so fanatical, due to the love of a mother she sometimes can see things differently to Jack’s father, but she is nonetheless no great support either. So yes, I have to move straight on to the next book as I can’t stand not knowing how this situation will play out as there is definitely no happy ever in sight for both boys at the end of this book. Sara has handled this whole troublesome and difficult area very well and I just hope Jack’s mother will see the light and come around to a different kind of thinking. The potential is there with her for sure. As for Andrew’s parents and Jack’s father? I’m certainly not expecting any reconciliation there at the moment if at all.
This is an extremely difficult book to narrate as you have so many different generations to act out for one person. You have little Billy who is only seven, Jack and Andrew who are eighteen and the adult parents. The narrator has a very young voice or is young himself, so this is perfect match for Jack and Andrew as the story is told mainly from both boy’s points of view, a young man’s voice is what is needed for this story. He gets a lot of emotion out of the words and off page of these two teenagers and you can feel the intense feelings that Jack and Andrew have for each other.
However, I just felt that the voice characterizations of the adults, especially Jack’s father, the football coach and Andrew’s social worker unfortunately just didn’t sound “mature” or “manly” enough. Especially in the case of Jack’s father where a much more deeper and threatening voice was needed. Billy’s voice I found was characterised well, again difficult to imitate a child’s voice when you are an adult but it endeared me to the little boy immediately. I enjoyed the narration very much despite the small things mentioned here. As I said an extremely difficult book to narrate in my opinion. So I decided it is like listening to a teenager telling his own distressing story from his point of view, went with that and it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.
Meet Sara York
Writing is Sara’s life. The stories fight to get out, often leaving her working on four or five books at once. She can’t help but write. Along with her writing addiction she has a coffee addiction. Some nights, the only reason she stops writing and goes to sleep is for the fresh brewed coffee in the morning.