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Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza
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Seventy Times Seven

by Salvatore Sapienza

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It is a rare day when I give a book five stars. Why this book? For several reasons. First of all, the author, Salvatore Sapienza, is able to craft a readable story, and by readable I mean a story that unfolds with a certain pleasing ease and believability. The mark of a successful writer is the ability to make the reader forget they are reading fiction. I kept finding myself assuming the main character, Vito, was a proxy upon whom the author had projected his own struggle with integrating faith into an otherwise fractured life. Secondly, although the author is no Donald Windham or Alexander Chee (neither of who by the way, received five stars from this reviewer), it is of no matter provided the message is important. Which brings us to the reason for five stars: There is a dearth of authorship offering readers a chance to see that Jesus is perfectly relevant in contemporary individual lives, especially GLBTQ lives. This is a vital issue. Thank you, Salvatore. I look forward to more in this vein! ( )
  ElTomaso | May 20, 2013 |
Brother Vito is both Catholic, and an out and proud gay man. However, he has yet to completely reconcile his sexuality with his spirituality. With his final vows approaching in a few months, it is more important than ever that he determine exactly what it means to become a Divinity Brother and be open about his desires. Through self contemplation and soul searching, he hopes to find an answer. But, it becomes even more difficult for him to discern what God's calling for him is when he volunteers at a San Francisco AIDS center, and finds himself falling in love.

Salvatore Sapienza has written a fantastic debut novel. Incorporating his own personal experiences as a out gay man and as a Marist Brother, his novel is thought provoking and the story a poignant portrayal of a man's search for his purpose in God's plan.

Experiments in Reading ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Apr 24, 2009 |
A Thoroughly Satisfying Read.

Seventy Times Seven was a tough read for me. As a somewhat bitterly ex-catholic gay boy who has been battling HIV for eleven years, I found that many parts of Sal Sapienza's novel hit very close to home. After I reached the end, though, I recognized that the journey had been well worth it, despite the emotional bumps I hit along the way.

The story's main character is Vito, a cute gay Italian boy who is just getting ready to take final vows in his Catholic brotherhood. The book chronicles his struggle to incorporate his religious calling with his more sensual, secular urgings. To be honest, I liked Vito. I wanted to sleep with Vito, but I didn't identify with Vito - not one bit. I empathized much more with his best friend Tim, a light-hearted hedonist who seems to take great delight in leading his conflicted friend astray. My guess is that most gay guys who, like me, reached young adulthood in the eighties will also more closely identify with Tim. To me, he is more or less the embodiment of gay eighties culture - chastened somewhat by the looming threat of AIDS, but still trying to live life to the fullest.

And speaking of gay eighties cultural references - Sapienza uses them liberally, but not gratuitously, throughout the book. He weaves the pop songs and mega-stars from that time right into the story, using them as metaphors for the various issues that Vito struggles with along the way. This gives the novel the quality of a modern-day parable, and though I'm sure I'm not the only reader who wanted to shake Vito by the shoulders from time to time and scream "Are you out of your mind?", I found his crisis, as a whole, to be genuine and believable.

A fine first novel by Sal Sapienza. It had a nice, steady pace, well developed characters and just enough pathos to engage readers emotionally without carrying them into the realm of soap opera. Seventy Times Seven roughed me up a bit emotionally, but in the end it left me feeling hopeful about myself and about life in general. Can one ask any more of a novel than that? ( )
  patnelsonchilds | Aug 11, 2007 |
  rkgregg | Dec 21, 2006 |
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