Summary and book reviews of The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely

The Gospel of Winter

By Brendan Kiely

The Gospel of Winter
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2014,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan's fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father's wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg - the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan's world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg's affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who's a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan's.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent - but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. Brendan Kiely's unflinching and courageous debut novel exposes the damage from the secrets we keep and proves that in truth, there is power. And real love.

The question is not what am I to believe, but what am I to do?
—SØREN KIERKEGAARD

CHAPTER 1

In order to tell you what really happened, what you don't know, what the journalists didn't report, I have to start at Mother's annual Christmas Eve party. Two nights before, as if the universe were the coproducer of her big show, a snowstorm whitewashed our little corner of Connecticut. Mother was thrilled. Electric candles in the windows, wreaths on the doors, picturesque drifts of snow snuggled up against the house—everything was "just wonderful," as her friends would say. Spirits would soar, or at least appear to. That was Mother—survival of the cheeriest—and everyone was ready to suck down her holiday cure-all. We were about to welcome more than a hundred and fifty guests into our home and ignore the fact that although the invitations had been mailed out in late October with my father's name next to hers in embossed script, Old Donovan was...

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Reviews

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To be honest, as a mother of two (now grown) sons I reacted viscerally to this novel. Make no mistake. There is no graphic sexuality here. No. What is worse is the raw, graphic emotion.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (1134 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kiely's impressive debut takes a controversial topic - sexual abuse in the Catholic Church - and addresses it head-on with sensitivity and finesse...distressingly vivid and real. Ages 14+

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. [A] lyrical and hard-hitting exploration of betrayal and healing...often bleak, eventually hopeful and beautifully told. Ages 14+

Booklist

Starred Review. Kiely’s gutsy debut addresses abuse in the Catholic Church. This is challenging, thought-provoking material, presented in beautiful prose, which explores the ways in which acts rendered in the name of love can both destroy and heal.

Author Blurb Colum McCann, NYT Bestselling author and National Book Award winner for Let the Great World Spin
[A] novel that examines the faultlines of love, family, adolesence, faith and belonging. Brendan Kiely has written a novel that is both unflinching and redemptive.

Author Blurb Frederic Tuten, author of Tintin in the New World
The Gospel of Winter comes to us in full flower, a rich, complex, wise, beautifully written novel and a compelling read.

Author Blurb A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven, winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction
[The] complex story of a young man's search for identity, for comfort, for faith. Aidan Donovan's struggle to find truth lives in all of us - his pain and hope are both resonant and transformative.

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U.N. Committee Presses Vatican Regarding Pedophile Priests

convention on the rights of the child logoJust last month, the Catholic Church took heat from a United Nations committee investigating its compliance with practices outlined in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Convention, which establishes international standards for the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children, was ratified in 1990 and is enforced by the U.N. committee that convened in January 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Specifically, the committee was interested in whether or not the Holy See, the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, has implemented its directives regarding the dispatch of priests known to have engaged in child sexual abuse.

The Church's initial response was to disclose that in 2011-2012,...

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