Saturday, August 6, 2016

Ann Gallagher - Lead Me Not

Isaac Morris has devoted his life to preaching against the sin of homosexuality. But when his sister proposes a documentary to demonstrate once and for all that it’s a choice—with Isaac choosing to be gay as proof—he balks. Until he learns his nephew is headed down that perverted path. Isaac will do anything to convince the teenager he can choose to be straight . . . including his sister’s film.
When Isaac’s first foray into the gay lifestyle ends with a homophobic beating, he’s saved and cared for by Colton Roberts, a gentle, compassionate bartender with a cross around his neck. Colton challenges every one of Isaac’s deeply held beliefs about gay men. He was kicked out by homophobic parents, saved from the streets by a kind pastor, and is now a devout Christian. Colton’s sexuality has cost him dearly, but it also brought him to God.
As the two grow closer, everything Isaac knows about homosexuality, his faith, and himself is called into question. And if he’s been wrong all along, what does that mean for his ministry, his soul, his struggling nephew—and the man he never meant to love?

Comment: I've read good opinions about this book and some time ago, I got it. It was supposed to have been read last month but I just couldn't meet my own deadline for July, too busy with real life. So, it stayed for this month instead.

This is the story of Isaac Morris, the youngest son of a very strict preacher, whose main focus of his church is to preach against homosexuality. Isaac's siblings all seem to defend the same, except two that have left the church, the family's connection and went out with their lives.
One day, at a protest against a gay parade, Isaac is asked to prove being gay is not a choice, like his father's Church says. Isaac argues but later on his twin sister Ruth has the idea of doing a documentary to prove exactly that and she tells Isaac to pretend to be gay so he can be in the lifestyle and learn why gays choose that.
His father and siblings yell at first but eventually accept the idea  - and its ricks - to finally have a proof being gay is always a choice, thus everyone makes the choice to sin.
Isaac enters the gay scene and is attacked and rescued and from then on, his perspective and religious beliefs are put to the test. He even finds love. But what about his agenda and purposes?

This was a good story overall. It was well written and easy to read and not totally unrealistic.
The weakest thing in all this to me was the plot idea. I don't think Isaac's strongly religious family would ever accept such an idea but if Isaac were someone they knew or a family friend or someone with doubts in his faith, it would have been more easy to imagine. A deeply in the closet, brainwashed young man, already divorced and ashamed seems a little too far in credibility. But that apart, the story focused a lot on several aspects that anyone with religious faith can think about while reading.

Although this is heavy on the religion, I wouldn't say it's preaching. It almost sounds a contradiction and we do have a lot of discussions on faith and religion and God's will, God's Word, but it always seemed to be to be a part of the characters and not an idea the author is imposing on us. There's a certain balance I actually appreciated. If one accepts the ideas or not, that's personal but it was interesting to see how each argument was used/debated to explain things that, as they will ever be, are just someone's interpretation of something.
The thoughts both main characters had on this were quite strong, well portrayed and added necessary layers for them to look more alive and real. Many of his doubts and fears are certainly the same as real people face because they believe in God being gay at the same time.

This story isn't sad or depressing, even when it touches situations and facts that being us down. I confess I've cried, more by imagining outcomes rather than by scenes in the book, but it's emotional, yes. I like the author didn't turn this into something we should read having pity of Issac or others, but in ways that allowed the reader to feel and move on. Meaning, it's not too heavy you can't think past sadness, but is sometimes realistic and reality isn't always happy.

The relationship between Colton and Issac was sweet and slow paced. It had its obvious conflict moments which made the HEA even cuter. A little too much in my opinion, but nothing is ever perfect. I just liked the story, the way the characters interacted and learned to be in love. I don't think this answers all the doubts people have but it offers an interesting perspective.
For me, it worked in its (mostly in"simplicity") way.
Grade: 8/10

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