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The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely

The Gospel of Winter

by Brendan Kiely

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A tough, powerful, moving story about betrayal and healing. Overwritten at times but quite an impressive debut nonetheless. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
This was a story that needs to be told. For generations, adults have put themselves in a position where youths trust them and are betrayed by them. Aidan Donovan comes from a very well-to-do family but that doesn't protect him from harm. He becomes involved with working at the Most Precious Blood Catholic church and falls prey to Father Greg. Aidan's father has deserted his family so it was easy for this to happen. As Aidan's relationship with Father Greg developed, so did his involvement with Adderall, alcohol, and smoking. All the while, Father Greg impressed on him how it was in Aidan's best interest to remain silent. It all started to unravel when Aidan overhears Father Greg delivering all the same lines he has heard but to a different boy. Combine that with priest abuses in the news and the attempted suicide of a friend, and Aidan finally realizes the only way to try and return to a normal state is to tell everyone what has been going on.

I wish I liked this book more than I did. Somehow the privileged background of the private school students and society families lessened my concern for the victims, even though it shouldn't have. I admit that when I was away from the book I could not, for the life of me, recall its title. ( )
  mamzel | Mar 10, 2015 |
A wonderful first novel! Can't wait to read more of this author's work. ( )
  olegalCA | Dec 9, 2014 |
Some books break your heart. Some books wreck you.

THE GOSPEL OF WINTER by Brendan Kiely is one of those books. There's so much going on here. A divorce. A troubled rich kid with too much time and money and speed on his hands. Questions about sexuality. And the topic that still haunts the Catholic church: priests getting a little too close to altar boys.

Taking place just months after 9/11, and set in small-town Connecticut, THE GOSPEL OF WINTER explores what it means to be a teen on the edge. On the edge of adulthood. on the edge of failure. On the edge of social circles. Aidan is struggling with so much, and it doesn't seem like the people around him are really noticing. His mother is wrapped up in image, and he doesn't really have friends to speak of. Not until, at his mom's annual holiday bash, he sneaks off with a couple school mates (and parents' friends' kids) to drink and get high. Soon, he has a new band of cohorts. And he's falling in love. Sort of. And all the secrets he's been keeping about the well-loved local priest begin bubbling to the surface. As Aidan's life unravels, he is finding himself more and more in need of support. And he has to learn to lean on people. The right people. More than ever.

Told in lyrical prose, with deep sensitivity for the tough topics that THE GOSPEL OF WINTER approaches, this is a novel that stands up there next to books by Laurie Halse Anderson and Lauren Myracle. It's a book that will bring you to tears, and, at the same time, is page-turningly enjoyable. Aidan is a character you will not soon forget. And I anticipate awards in Brendan Kiely's future. ( )
  EKAnderson | Mar 27, 2014 |
My Summary: Aiden is living in the midst of what some would describe as their worst nightmare. With his already unstable home life crumbling more and more every day, Aiden begins to self-medicate. However, the alcohol and drugs can't fill the hole inside his heart, so Aiden begins talking to Father Greg about the demons that haunt him.

But when Father Greg's true motives for befriending Aiden are revealed, he attempts to escape the memories of what happened through a group of friends who offer more support than he's ever gotten from his family. And although he may try to hide it, Aiden can sense that Mark may know just what he went through... and together, they may just be able to help each other heal.

My Thoughts: This novel was so hard to put down. The second I stopped reading, I was plagued with questions about what would happen to Aiden and had to pick it up and continue.

Aiden was such a likable character, and you couldn't help but sympathize as you watched him struggle to navigate the obstacles he faced - those of growing up as well as those due to the situations he'd been put into. The writing was incredibly honest while also flowing like prose. I liked that you were placed right in the center of the plot right from the start - I was hooked within minutes.

The topic of clerical abuse was dealt with very gracefully in this novel. The focus was not so much on the abuse or abuser but on the healing process, and how important support from loved ones is in getting on with your life - in my opinion, it was a great approach to dealing with a usually taboo subject.

Final Thoughts: Definitely check out The Gospel of Winter if you're a fan of contemporary literature or are just looking for a novel that hits your heart in all the right places. ( )
  sch_94 | Jan 21, 2014 |
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Managing the challenges of his fractured family by taking Adderall, sneaking drinks, and confiding in an abusive priest, Aidan finds support from new friends including a crush, a wild girl, and a swim-team captain with his own secrets.

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