R- really hard one to rate, plenty of sexuality, but more in a health class way than a risque way
Copy provided by the publisher at the request of the author
First things first-- I have spent a fair amount of time debating on how to review this without going into my feelings on homosexuality and without it turning into a huge mess. I can't find a way to review this book without going into what I know is a deeply complicated and often painful topic. I have received painful and even hateful emails in the past for my opinions and beliefs and would prefer not to repeat the experience, though, so IF THE COMMENTS GET OUT OF HAND, I WILL DELETE THEM AND/OR TURN THEM OFF ALTOGETHER!
Whew, glad that's out of the way.
*From the back cover-- A gay teenage Mormon growing up in western Oregon in 2003. His straight best friend. Their parents. A typical LDS ward, a high school club about tolerance for gays, and a proposed anti-gay-marriage amendment to the state constitution. In No Going Back, these elements combine in a coming-of-age story about faithfulness and friendship, temptation and redemption, tough choices and conflicting loyalties.*
This is normally NOT a subject I would read a book on. Generally, it's a subject I'd prefer not to touch with a ten-foot pole. Especially online for all the world to see.
But when the author contacted me, I decided (after a fair amount of internal debate), you know what? It's a story that needs to be told.
Then I got the book and seriously dragged my feet reading it. Why? I was so afraid I would hate it. I was so afraid that it would go against everything I believe and then I'd have to review it and it would just all be awful. I wasn't positive that the author was LDS and I just wasn't sure the portrayal of Mormonism was going to be good.
And you know what happened? I loved it.
Yes, parts were heart-wrenching and yes, there were things I didn't like, but overall I think the character of Paul is an absolutely brilliant portrayal of a teen struggling with his feelings for other men and his faith in the gospel.
Okay, quickly, what I didn't love-- the swearing. I know it's realistic, but still. I don't love reading it. The storyline with Chad's mom-- it was fascinating, but really didn't belong in this book. It wasn't fleshed out enough to stand alone and it didn't support the main storyline with how much of it there was. I would LOVE to see Langford revisit the ideas there in a separate book, though. Also, the narration lagged in places. It really could have used a little more tightening up.
Other than that, I really thought it was very well done. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but there were a lot of places where I thought "Exactly! That's what I believe. That's how I feel. That's what I have such a terrible time putting into words."
Now, as far as recommendations go (and this is where I struggle a little)-- would I recommend it for teens..... yes and no. Um, for LDS teens struggling with how they feel about homosexuality in general or their own personal feelings of homosexuality-- yes. However, I do think it's the kind of book where it would be better if teens and parents both read it and talked about it. Would I recommend it for parents of teens, yes. I'm not sure I'd recommend it for the under... oh 15 crowd. It is a mature subject. It's a difficult subject.
I would also recommend it to LDS bishops. I thought the character of Richard Mortenson, the bishop, was really insightful.
Really, if nothing else, you've got to give Langford kudos for even considering tackling such a hard subject. I can think of exactly one other book that goes anywhere near it. (The Way He Lived, for those that are wondering. It's a lot more subtle, and really totally different, but also an excellent book.)
Now, technically Jonathan Langford lives in Wisconsin, but because of his strong ties to Utah and the fact that it's LDS fiction, I'm tagging this as a "local" author.