Aidan's whole world is crumbling around him. His father has left home to live with his mistress abroad. His mother is so embroiled in her own pain that she doesn't even seem to pay any attention to him. Lucky for Aidan he has his faith and Father Greg. But when he goes to church both Father Greg and Father Dooley both seem upset with him and want him to leave. Aidan finds solace in the alcohol he finds in his father's old study and in the prescription pills he finds in his mother's cabinet. At his mother's annual Christmas party he bumps into friends from school and the four kids forge a new friendship.
As the sex abuse cover-up in the Catholic church starts hitting the news media, Aidan tries to push aside thoughts of Father Greg and what he has done in the name of "love." No amount of drugs can quiet the demons that reside in his head. When Mark, one of his new friends, makes a revelation, Aidan pushes him away, too. It takes a near tragedy for Aidan face his demons and tell someone what has been going on.
The author is very courageous in taking on a tough topic but parts of it just didn't work for me. The scene where the Father was chasing Aidan through a golf course; drugs, drugs, drugs with few consequences; and the ease that moved into a new social circle at school just didn't seem realistic. On the other hand, the conclusion shows tremendous growth in the main character and also how difficult the decision to speak out must be for those who were abused. The folks over at Teen Librarian's Toolbox say this about The Gospel of Winter:
[It] is a light shining bright on a shamefully dark part of our psyche and history. It is horrifically uncomfortable to read, emotionally draining and disconcerting, but it ends on a redemptive note as the teens involved make life changing decisions to help themselves and each other. Profound, revealing, and expertly told,
They go on to say that it is a must-read for everyone. I'm not sure I would go that far, but I will say that I am glad it was written. It is a book that teens can turn to if they are navigating similar or difficult life decisions.
One thought came into focus for me as I finished the book, individuals who were abused by priests not only lose their innocence, they also lose God, or God as they knew him. What a sad, double or triple tragedy.
30 books Summer Reading Challenge
19 / 30 books. 63% done!