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The gospel of winter : a novel

by by Brendan Kiely

Book list *Starred Review* Kiely's gutsy debut addresses abuse in the Catholic Church. The year is 2001, the events of 9/11 are only two months old, and 16-year-old Aidan's family is falling apart. His father, Old Donovan, is holed up in Europe with his mistress, while his mother is mainly concerned with throwing the perfect party in their affluent Connecticut town. Aidan finds comfort in snorting lines of Adderall, swiping drinks from his father's wet bar, and forming a friendship with Father Greg of Most Precious Blood, the town's Catholic church. Father Greg uses words like love and faith and virtue like they mean something, and for a long time, Aidan trusts him completely. But when he realizes that Father Greg's affections are sickening, and damaging other boys, he is left reeling. A crew of three friends Josie, whom Aidan is attracted to; fun-loving Sophie; and Mark, whose secrets dovetail with Aidan's are the only people he can count on. The scandal among the Boston archdiocese in early 2002 gets Aidan's town's attention, and when it does, Aidan's feelings of rage and denial and fear come to a head. This is challenging, thought-provoking material, presented in beautiful prose that explores the ways in which acts rendered in the name of love can both destroy and heal.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Kiely's impressive debut takes a controversial topic-sexual abuse in the Catholic Church-and addresses it head-on with sensitivity and finesse. Sixteen-year-old social outcast Aidan Donovan is from a privileged but broken family. While his philandering father has decamped to Europe and his mother is planning her latest high-society bash in their suburban Connecticut neighborhood, Aidan is busy snorting Adderall and getting wasted with a trio of new friends. Aidan's discontent builds to a masterfully disquieting roar as he buckles under the weight of the secret he no longer wants to keep, but is too afraid to tell: that he was repeatedly abused by a priest he had grown to love and trust. Setting his story against the shaky aftermath of 9/11 and the scandals that surfaced in the Boston archdiocese in early 2002, Kiely hits his mark with a sickening portrayal of Father Greg and those who let his behavior continue. But it's the combination of Aidan's vulnerability, denial, and silent rage that makes the novel so distressingly vivid and real. Ages 14-up. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Aidan's priest is sexually abusing him, and the 16-year-old has been convinced that what Father Greg does is because of the love they share. The abuse makes Aidan feel unbalanced at best, and when his father leaves the family and his mother tries to maintain appearances in their tony Connecticut town, Aidan reaches for solace from a new set of friends. The teens spend time drinking, getting high, and trying to connect. Aidan is pushed over the edge when he catches Father Greg abusing another boy. He confronts the priest but gets nowhere; soon the Catholic Church's sex scandal blows up in the papers, and Aidan must try to find the strength to speak out. The story is heart wrenching, slow moving, and somewhat oppressive, which is entirely fitting considering the subject matter. Aidan has been terribly wounded, and it takes time for him to be able to trust someone with what happened. Kiely's writing is rather formal, with elaborate turns of phrase and dense descriptions that call to mind the words for the rites of the church. This style keeps readers at a distance from the horrific acts described. The author tries to cover many issues in this ambitious first novel: sexual abuse, abandonment, neglect, the disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and drug abuse. Readers may find themselves as overwhelmed as Aidan. The book feels like an adult novel that is of interest to older teens.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.