The Revelations of Jude Connorby Robin Reardon
Jude wants desperately to be saved—to believe with the fervor of Reverend Amos King, whose
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 certain damnation in the next.
Jude wants desperately to be saved—to believe with the fervor of Reverend Amos King, whose sermons are filled with brimstone and righteousness. Yet it hasn't been easy. It's not just the forbidden friendship with his unconventional classmate, Pearl, or the difficulties of being orphaned and in his older brother's care. There are the restrictions governing how congregants should behave, the whispers that follow Gregory Hart, a man who cares for his wheelchair-bound sister and offers guidance Jude sorely needs. And there's Jude's burgeoning need to decide for himself how to live, when to question, and who to love.
When loyalty doesn't help Jude overcome his own temptations, he must confront the truth behind the church's façade and his willingness to follow his own path—even if it leads him far from everything he's known. . .
Praise for the novels of Robin Reardon
"Mesmerizing. . ..A rare book that will appeal to young adults and adult readers alike." --Publishers Weekly on The Evolution of Ethan Poe
"A compelling story well worth your time. . .Reardon is an author to watch." —Bart Yates on A Secret Edge
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The Revelations of Jude Connor
By Robin Reardon
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013Robin Reardon
All rights reserved.
Amos King was the most amazing preacher anybody ever heard. He could bounce you between the fires of Hell and the salvation of Heaven and make you be glad about both. I suspect now that one reason he kept his dark hair fairly long was so that he could fling it around as he preached, punctuating his exhortations with that dramatic visual aid.
I don't remember the first time I heard him. My mother started taking Lorne and me to church long before I was old enough to notice much, and eventually I came to take it for granted that every Sunday we would see him up there, his intense dark eyes narrowing in on first one congregant and then another.
In my teens I came to see that his clean, strong jaw, full mouth, and high cheekbones worked together to create a rather strikingly handsome face. But as a young child, despite the differences in their appearances, I think I confused Reverend King in my mind with my father, who'd left when I was four and my brother Lorne was twelve—a confusion possibly enhanced by the fact that my mother had given me the middle name of Amos, in honor of the pastor. When Lorne was named, Reverend King was not yet our pastor, so I got the honor. Over the years I discovered many other boys in the Church who had the same middle name, for the same reason. The Reverend King was, indeed, revered.
Both men could yell, that was for sure. I don't remember much about my father, but Lorne had a few memories he shared with me. They weren't pleasant ones, and I came to understand why Lorne would flinch sometimes when Reverend King shouted or turned suddenly in our direction. My mother relinquished to me her memories of her husband rarely and parsimoniously, and without saying so in a direct way, she left me with the impression that our Church was too much for him. Whether that was her belief or the excuse he offered, I never knew.
It's true that the Grace of God Church might well have been a lot for someone not born into it, or reborn in it without real commitment. In fact, although the Church welcomed visitors gladly, after some number of visits, and some very specific attention by some number of us, they were expected to make a choice. Which is to say, take on the conversion process and be baptized, or experience having all the saints in the Body quite literally turn away all at once, suddenly and finally, by order of some authority that was never clear to me. We were a closed society. Saints, because we were true disciples of Christ. Real Christians. Pure. In the Body of Christ because of having died to the world and then being born again in him through the Holy Spirit. You were in, or you were out.
Maybe it was all the "fellowshipping" that got to my father. There was a lot of it, because even after dying and being raised again through baptism, we all knew we could fall again, back down into our sinful ways. We could lose our status in the sainthood. We needed the constant presence, coaching, and prayers of our brothers and sisters to remain saved. Missing meetings of the Body was considered a danger sign. And there were so many meetings, designed to make sure we had little time to get into trouble. Church on Sunday was followed by fellowship time. There were Bible Studies during the week in people's homes; teens (aged eleven to eighteen) and adults were expected to attend at least one. And often there was some group activity on Saturday that was not mandatory, but if you weren't there, people noticed.
Dad wasn't born in the Church, so he couldn't have married my mother—or, she wouldn't have married him—if he hadn't converted; but if she'd been the main reason he did it, that probably wouldn't have been enough to keep him. And she wasn't about to leave it. Not for him, not for anyone. Because what would that have meant, after all, but her eternal damnation? If he chose to be damned—although she would have done everything in her power to convince him to repent his doubt and rededicate himself—if Satan pulled him away, she would not, could not go with him.
The only thing of value that he left behind for me was his childhood bag of marbles.
Lorne was a wizard with engines. He'd started by working on the lawn mower. One memory that Lorne and I could both claim was that mowing the lawn was one of the things that enraged our father. We rented half of a big house that had been converted to shelter two families. The Christians who owned it gave us a break on the rent in exchange for some maintenance work, like mowing the lawn in warm weather and clearing snow in winter from both driveways—ours and that of our neighbors in the other half of the house, the McNultys. Snow removal was no small task in Idaho, where we lived.
My memory extends far enough back to let me recall the rickety mower, not quite red any longer, and the insecure sounds it made in its efforts to cut the grass over which my father would shove it. Every so often it would gasp, choke, exhale gas odors into the air, and sputter to a halt. In the silence, I'd cringe. Would Dad be able to get it started again, or would frustration send him over some edge? I shuddered with each rip of the cord as Dad tried to get the engine churning once more, and I'd breathe again if it caught and stayed on. Because if it didn't catch, I knew what would happen next. There would be a stream of language punctuated by blanks where a non-Christian would have inserted expletives, followed by a metallic clanging noise as he jerked the handle upward and let the machine crash back to earth, followed by the slam of a door that told me he was now inside the house and that shouting between him and my mother would begin. He seldom won these yelling matches, because she knew more scripture—and had loads more saintly patience—than he did. But if he couldn't win with her, he could win with Lorne or me. He never did more than yell, but it hurt just the same. And it sent a dense fog of depression and anxiety into the house, a palpable presence that fingered its way into everything I did or thought or dared to say.
At some point Lorne took on the job of lawn maintenance, possibly at least in part to eliminate anything he could that would send Dad into one of his furies. Part of the problem with this task was that the third-hand lawn mower someone had given us was not in good shape. I can picture Lorne sitting in our dirt driveway in the shade that big pine tree made, shaggy brown hair falling over his suntanned face, dirty rags and bits of lawnmower littered around him, and him intently tinkering and testing and greasing and cleaning and reconstituting the cantankerous old thing until his patience and technical intuition paid off. Now there isn't an engine that doesn't roll over and purr when he's done with it.
I'm not talking about just lawnmowers and cars, either. If there was one thing our community couldn't live without, it was engines. Trucks, tractors, backhoes, harvesters, diesel monsters— Lorne could fix anything. It was like he had some kind of sixth sense, a carbon-based dowsing rod, that would lead him to any problem and guide his greasy hands through the steps to make the world whole again. To stop the yelling. To hold the family together. People sometimes said it was a gift from God, and that Jesus himself would whisper instructions into Lorne's ear.
After Dad left, the money Lorne was bringing in when someone in the Church had an odd job for him to do didn't amount to much, and my mother had to find work. She wasn't trained to do anything, and her education had stopped when high school ended. But this is one thing that was great about our Church; we always took care of one another. One brother, Mr. Townsend, sold farm equipment. He had a bookkeeper, but he was planning to b
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Reviewed by Rachel Book provided by NetGalley for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I’d never read any of this authors books before. I saw the cover, looked at the title and thought it looked interesting. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This book is more of a coming-of-age book than it is a YA. It’s the story of Jude from pre-teen all the way into adulthood, as he faces huge loss in his life. Growing up, in what I’m assuming is the Mormon church considering the way they referred to the church, was all Jude ever knew. After his mother died, he was forced to spend time with the reverend or bishop. After all, his brother couldn’t raise him, he had a family and life to build. So Jude is essentially brainwashed by the reverend and forced to spend every afternoon in his company. Very soon, Jude realizes he’s different. His friend Tim and he have a different relationship, he feels different things with him than he does other friends. He’s also the only person that truly understands Jude, that is until everything hits the fan and they embark on a relationship both know is forbidden. What follows is the story of how Jude fights these feelings, how the bishop uses Jude as a way to push away his own sin–and in the end how Jude finally finds freedom in being who he needs to be. I was really put off when I first read this novel. The way the author described the church was more of a cult than a church. I kept trying to understand what Church would ostracize it’s members in that way. It was horrible and totally put a bad taste in my mouth. Then as the book progressed, I realized it wasn’t necessarily about the church, it was about how no matter who you claim to be in life, you’re still liable to sin, you still have baggage, and nobody is perfect. Jude faced a lot of drama in his life, every single thing kept coming back to what he was raised in, the church, and what he knew to be right, which was people being treated as equals, people deserving love regardless of who they were or where they were from. I think the huge concept of this story is acceptance. Loving those who are unlovable and loving everyone despite their past or their actions. The people in the story who claimed to be perfect were actually the awful ones and vice versa. I went from hating the story, to loving it, to hating it again, to really appreciating the point of view the author had on the subject of homosexuality. It was actually quite brilliantly done and didn’t just pounce on the church like it was evil, it showed good people who had good intentions and truly did love Jude. I would recommend this book if you want something deep and thought provoking, definitely not the type of book to read if you want something easy and light. All in all, I liked it, but probably wouldn’t read it again, not because the writing wasn’t outstanding but because it really isn’t my cup of tea.