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Posted December 1, 2010
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. But I did find myself getting confused in some parts of the story. I have no experience in how the Mormon church works. I don't know anything about the different Bishops and Deacons and Priests and teachers' quorums or how any of these things work. No Going Back is written in a way that I felt I was supposed to understand these things already. I feel the story would do good with a little more explaining on this part. (One thing I picked up, no caffeine? I. would. die.)
Aside from the few bumps in the road, No Going Back was an enjoyable story with a great protagonist. I recommend it to those who enjoy a solid coming-of-age story.
Posted September 20, 2010
This book is way different from what I usually read. I can't rate it the same way. First, it's an LDS novel--intended for Mormon readers. It's about Paul, a Mormon 15-year-old who likes guys instead of girls. Paul is a sympathetic hero for other faithful Mormon teens who face a similar challenge.
Number two? It's not YA. I had a hard time reading it objectively because I think it should be. (Yikes!) The content is definitely YA, but along with the authentic guy voices you'd find in a good YA novel (that can be vulgar at times), we see the story from several adult viewpoints. These viewpoints--especially Paul's bishop--were instructive, but as a hardcore YA fanatic I wanted to hear the story straight from Paul. The viewpoint switches away from him when I don't want it to. This is probably me being a spoiled brat, but I wanted to be inside Paul's head and heart all the time. He's a great character.
I've never been a fan of omniscient third person narration. Most readers could care less. I confess I read YA, middle grade novels, and classics--almost exclusively so I don't put up with it often. I know omniscient third with lots of viewpoint switches is common in adult reads.
Most readers who are grown up and have grown up tastes will probably be interested in seeing the story from several points of view. Few will want to call up Jonathan and beg him to release a teen edition told entirely in Paul's own words and own voice. That's the novel I want to read. Paul is a conflicted kid walking in great faith down a seemingly impossible road. I would like to follow more closely in his shoes without middle aged adult drama to cloud the picture.
I doubt other readers will have my quirky objections to Jonathan's storytelling methods. I do NOT doubt other readers will love Paul and cheer as loudly for him and the good people in his life as I did.
Posted November 7, 2009
No Going Back by Jonathan Langford
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.
This powerful novel is about friendship, and how Chad comes to understand the importance of what friendships are all about, how a person can overcome temptation and be redeemed through prayer and scripture reading. I liked how the characters are not sugar-coated, like some LDS novels can be with super perfect members. Bishop Mortenson has problems communicating with his wife and vice versa, even with his co-workers he has issues with. My hat goes off to Jonathan for bringing this controversial topic to us in a more understanding light. As a Church, we need to treat everyone with love, kindness and compassion, no matter what the circumstance. Our Savior Jesus Christ most definitely does.
Forever Friends Rating 5 Stars by Teri
Until Next Time, See You Around The Book Nook.
Pub. Date: October 2009
Posted February 13, 2012
No text was provided for this review.