Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: And If I Fall by Robin Reardon

and if i fallTitle ~ And If I Fall

Author ~ Robin Reardon

Published ~ 12th January 2018

Genre ~ Contemporary Gay Fiction, Young Adult

Rating

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Synopsis

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 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.
As much as Jude craves the certainty the church offers, he finds himself at odds with it. Without intentionally rebelling, he befriends Pearl Thornton, considered an unrepentant heathen; he craves the support of Gregory Hart, whose church standing is questionable; and the feelings he has for his friend Tim Olsen make him fear for his own soul. But then Reverend King offers Jude sanctuary, special guidance, and a path into the Light.
Will Reverend King be able to help Jude preserve his place in heaven? Or will the reverend's own demons cause hell to swallow them both? The answer lies in Jude's willingness to follow his own path--even if it leads him far from everything he's known.
[NOTE: This book was previously published as The Revelations of Jude Connor.]

 

Cheryl’s Review

Even though this story has been around for a while, the book is being released right after Waiting for Walker so it has a hard act to follow. Waiting for Walker was among my top ten favourites of 2017 and in the top two Young Adult books. I was blown away by everything about it.

The writing style in And If I Fall is similar and the same fluidity marks a very talented storyteller. It by no means follows that a good writer is necessarily a good storyteller, but this author has it nailed. The pacing is spot on and the story arcs are smooth and well rounded.

One of this author’s strengths is getting into the head of characters and presenting us with the good, the bad and the downright confusing. Not that I’m saying the writing is confusing, but it realistically portrays the confusion felt by young people growing up in a confusing world. And there’s nothing more confusing than religion, especially when you’re growing up in a cult, and you’re mother’s just died.

After all that it’s difficult for me to say, but I didn’t like the book. There is so much about it that is good and positive and I can’t honestly put my finger on exactly what it was that made this book a chore to read. The only thing I can think of is the subject matter. I am not proud of it, but I have a distinct prejudice against Christianity and I suppose I was triggered. Whatever the case I found myself growing angry and losing sympathy with the characters easily. I do not want this issue to negatively impact on my overall assessment though, which is why, objectively, I give a 4.5* not a 3*

The story follows Jude, a 11-year-old whose mother just died leaving him and his brother orphaned (or as good as given their father is well out of the picture). They belong to a highly religious cult church, and Jude is desperate to be “good”. We are taken through the formative years of Jude’s life sharing his journey through denial, despair and ultimate salvation. It is a roller coaster ride, but a gentle one. Although the pace is steady and by no means drags, there are no real thrills or heart-pounding action.

As a conclusion I would say that if you like young adult stories that take you on a heartfelt journey, stripped of pretence and full of heart and realism, then this is definitely a book for you. If you get angry by religious hypocrisy and emotional manipulation you might want to think carefully.

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Meet Robin Reardon

Robin Reardon is an inveterate observer of human nature, and her primary writing goal is to create stories about all kinds of people, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender--people whose destinies are not determined solely by their sexual orientation or identity. Her secondary writing goal is to introduce readers to concepts or information they might not know very much about. See the "Digging Deeper" sections on most of the individual book pages for links to background information and research done for the novels.

Interests outside of writing include singing, nature photography, and the study of comparative religion. Robin writes in a butter yellow study with a view of the Boston, Massachusetts skyline.

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