Book Review: No Going Back by Jonathan Langford

No Going Back by Jonathan Langford
Publisher: Zarahemla Books
Publication date: October 2009
ISBN: 9780978797195

Source: e-copy provided by author

No Going Back 

Paul is an unusual young man.  He's gay, but he's also a Mormon and he'd like to stay one.  When he finally tells his best friend, Chad he freaks out.  But, Chad doesn't want to end their friendship over that.  As they continue to hang out, despite some awkwardness, Paul struggles to find a place he fits in and feels comfortable.  Paul faces all kinds of challenges from seemingly every direction, but also finds help from several unexpected places.  

Things I Liked:
This is definitely an author with guts.  With a main character professing to be both gay and Mormon, there are lots who could take offense.  I found myself entirely impressed with the skill and ability that Langford was able to capture the essence of what it must feel like to be torn in such a way.  Paul felt very realistic to me - a teenager with the regular problems and a whole lot more stacked on his plate.  I found myself getting a bit teary in places over his conflicting feelings and decisions. 
I particularly loved the bishop in the book, who showed compassion and help instead of judgment and condemnation.  I also think the book shows the many varied attitudes and reactions of people both Mormon and non-Mormon to a gay Mormon teenager.  Being LDS myself, I liked the perspective it gave me, because it had correct church doctrine, but also how individuals in the church interpret the doctrine (correctly or incorrectly).  It's a unique book in its subject and its treatment of that subject.  I especially liked how the ending was not so much happy as hopeful.  I thought this quote from the book described essentially what it was about:
"I guess I was just hoping...I don't know, maybe I culd find some kind of balance.  Some way I could stay in the church and do what I'm supposed to do, but still spend time with people who understand what it feels like to be gay, who won't get all freak out about me liking guys." p 211
Things I Didn't Like:
I did find the other story lines to be distracting, even if I understand why they are included.  It felt like it was getting off track sometimes when it followed them.  Also, I'm with Britt of Confessions of a Book Habitue in stating that I don't know who to recommend the book to.  I think it would offend some Mormons and I think non-Mormons might misunderstand it or just get bored with some of the doctrine and preaching that goes on.  Definitely for Mormon teens struggling with this issue and their parents.
I honestly can't think of any, perhaps a bit like The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith, though I haven't read it yet

s-factor: !@#
lots, but no f-words

mrg-factor: XX
teenage boy talk and one incident, not described in detail

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Any thoughts on this?
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