A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A quiet, intense tale about two men whose respective ways to themselves eventually guide them towards each other.
The Blurb: When Greg Aubuchon brings home an inebriated man one night, he’s merely playing Good Samaritan. What’s the point of a twenty-five-year-old gay virgin having designs on a twenty-two-year-old straight player who just broke up with his girlfriend?
But… assumptions often prove erroneous. Faron Weaver’s girlfriend was actually a boyfriend, and he’s every bit as screwed up about being a promiscuous gay Amish man as Greg is about being a celibate gay ex-monk.
A bond forms between them, as bizarre as it is fitting, when Greg’s current housemate moves out and Faron moves in. Although mutual attraction charges the air, their friendship remains chaste.
Other men disappoint and even hurt them, making real love seem like an impossible dream. Estrangement from faith and family fills them with guilt. They confide and commiserate and consider solutions, but nothing seems to be enough. Greg and Faron have a longing to belong that could send them back to the places they came from…unless they accept the blessing that’s right under their noses.
The Review: This was a very quiet story. Outwardly, nothing much happens here. When we first meet them, Faron and Greg are just two ordinary men with mundane jobs and normal everyday worries who meet, get to know each other, and gradually move from friendship to more. But that’s merely on the surface.
At first glimpse, a Catholic monk and an Amish man may seem a very unlikely pairing. Then again, given that they’re both gay and brought in conflict with their upbringing, their faith, their very life plans by that fact, maybe not. However, Greg and Faron did make a wonderful couple in the end, supporting each other on their respective ways towards self-acceptance and complementing each other in a way that made their eventual getting together inevitable, even though they almost missed the obvious.
The writing was flawless, smooth and fast-paced for all that the story unfolded so slow. It was laced with a delicious humor that had me laughing out loud at times but never turned the serious issues this book dealt with into ridicule. And yes, there was a little preaching and quoting of Bible passages, but not enough to become obtrusive.
Unsurprisingly, religion was a big theme in this book, as both main characters were firmly rooted in their faith, Faron even more so than Greg. There is a somewhat resigned acceptance of the Amish belief system about Faron, an it-is-as-it-is that carried over to me, the reader. The Amish aren’t demonized at all, but depicted in a factual, non-judgmental way that taught me a lot about a lifestyle that couldn’t be father removed from my own. At the same time, knowing where Faron came from, and seeing him live his fairly “normal” modern life went a long way to make me fully appreciative of the deep conflict he faces, of the absolute contradictoriness of being a gay man and being a member of the Amish community. It almost tears him apart, since he can’t give up either without losing a part of his very essence. And still, he’s so open and full of joie de vivre, an optimist and even an opportunist of sorts while at the same time honorable to a fault. For all that he had to keep his family at arm’s length, had to lie by omission, and scraped along on a string of sugar daddies during the last few years, he managed to preserve his innocence. I found him a very well-drawn character, multi-faceted and very likable.
Greg was more introverted and shy, which suited him well, given that he’d attempted to be a Trappist. Still, he’s got both feet firmly on the ground. His conflict wasn’t so much with how his environment might react to his sexuality (after all, even his abbot reacted sympathetically) as what it means for him personally to be gay. It took him a year of prayer and thought to admit the fact to himself, so he isn’t as carelessly open about his sexuality as Faron is. In fact, I agree with Greg that his retreat into the cloister was nothing but that, a flight. What he decided to face when he left there wasn’t so much the fact that he was gay – his conflicts were more with the vow of celibacy in itself, a struggle that would’ve been quite the same for a straight man – but life itself. From what I as the reader was given of Greg’s background, his family wasn’t particularly warm or caring towards him. He’d found acceptance and welcome among the monks, but because he finds himself unable to fully submit to the monk’s rules, he realizes he has to leave. This makes him honorable, and brave, but now he’s a little lost in the mundane world. He needs guidance, which he finds in Faron.
The two men may come from similar deeply religious backgrounds, but by the time their paths cross for the first time, they’ll have gotten there on very different roads. They may share the same idea about where they want to end up, but both need to take their individual detours and reach their individual dead ends before they can realize that they might be on a journey towards each other. And that’s what this story is at the core, even though it doesn’t cover much ground geographically. It’s a journey of two hearts and two souls, and I loved taking a crucial part of it with them. In the end, it was all about finding a place where they could truly belong. In Greg’s own words:
“God isn’t small, honey. God has a lot of freakin’ pockets. And we just found the one we belong in.”