Book Reviews

And If I Fall by Robin Reardon at IAM Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Fiction
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 12-January-2018

Book Blurb

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 damnation in the next.

Jude wants desperately to be saved--to believe with the fervor of the charismatic Reverend Amos King, whose sermons are filled with brimstone and righteousness. But every time Jude thinks he's found the right path, there's a fork in the road, and Truth seems to be in a different direction.

As much as Jude craves the certainty the church offers, he finds himself at odds with it. Without intentionally rebelling, he befriends Pearl Thornton, considered an unrepentant heathen; he craves the support of Gregory Hart, whose church standing is questionable; and the feelings he has for his friend Tim Olsen make him fear for his own soul. But then Reverend King offers Jude sanctuary, special guidance, and a path into the Light.

Will Reverend King be able to help Jude preserve his place in heaven? Or will the reverend's own demons cause hell to swallow them both? The answer lies in Jude's willingness to follow his own path--even if it leads him far from everything he's known.

First Edition published under the title 'The Revelations of Jude Connor', 2013.

Book Review

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else's path is wrong.” ~ Paulo Coelho  

Jude Connor is raised in a strict, evangelical community. Everything is decided for him, what he wears, what he eats, whom he speaks to, keeps company with, and loves. In other words, he's caught in a trap where there's no free will or objective thinking. What the “Body” says is what's right and everyone else is wrong. There are no exceptions. How can anyone grow in such a stifling atmosphere? Yet, Jude needs to overcome these limitations or he will never turn into the butterfly he's meant to be.

At the start, Jude is at a disadvantage. He lacks the guidance of both mother and father, since his mother died and his father left them, so Jude has to depend upon his brother and all of the other saints, which is what the “saved” members of the church call themselves, to help him. His brother loves Jude, but is firmly indoctrinated in church rhetoric. He, like others in the “Body”, are determined that there is only one way to get to Heaven and if they stray from the beliefs of the church, they will go to hell. Jude doesn't want to go to hell so he turns himself inside out trying to be a good person as defined by his church. Jude tries to suppress his “unnatural” desires for other men, banish them from his mind. Jude wants to be “saved”.

When the “Body” decides Jude is too young to spend so much time alone, an arrangement is made that he will spend part of the week with the pastor's family and the other part with his brother. Without parental guidance, the reverend of his church becomes his mentor. Jude, like many others in the church, practically worships him; he thinks that everything Reverend King says is the gospel truth. When Jude's brother gets married things are okay at home, but when a baby is due, there's no room for Jude. Jude accepts the reverend as his “God father”. He believes every word out of his mouth. Jude denies his own feelings about everything and becomes a true follower.

There are some things the reverend does that Jude questions, but his doubts are overridden by his idolization of the man. Jude eventually becomes “saved” and is baptized. Trying to be a “better saint”, he goes through a phase of witnessing that borders on obnoxious and he alienates almost everyone. There are some people in the community who are not “saved” but in many ways, they seem more real than those who are in the “Body. Jude is in conflict between what he's been taught and what may be a better way to live, but the lure of the “salvation” the “Body” offers, keeps him from making the leap of faith so he is able decide for himself. It takes a tragedy to open his eyes and see the truth about his situation which enables him to realize that his mind has been locked in a prison and he begins to take steps to break out and think on his own.

Robin has written a very compelling story which has more truth than I'd like to think. It was an emotional read for me, one that will take time to settle down in my mind. My righteousness indignation boiled and seethed at the injustice of a society that believes they can judge people the way this community, who claimed to be so close to God, does. It's a sin within itself. The sad part about this story is that it's not just a story. For many it's a reality. There are communities all over the world who practice their faith in this way, through oppression and fear, rather than love and acceptance. Thanks, Robin, for bringing this disgraceful practice into the light.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 474 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 12-January-2018
Price $3.99 ebook, $10.97 paperback
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