Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: No Going Back by Jonathan Langford

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "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."

Review:  In this teen novel, we find Paul Flitkin trying to be honest about who he is and what he believes.  Having grown up LDS (Mormon), he knew that coming out and trying to deal with his sexual identity was going to be hard enough without adding the conflict he felt from his religion.  All he ever really wanted to do was attend BYU and have a family, but it suddenly all seemed to conflict.  

I really thought that this novel dealt with a lot of issues that I hadn't seen tackled in a story before.  Not only did he have to face the obvious changes that happened in his friendship with his best friend Chad Mortenson (who's dad was also the bishop), but he also had to face the kids in his GSA club who felt that his desire to be LDS conflicted with who he really was.  I really felt for Chad, as he was tossed back and forth in the story between his church/beliefs and his same-sex attraction.

There were many layers of conflict built into this story, which I think does a nice job of touching on some of the realities that must surround a teen who wants to admit that they are gay.  Honestly, Paul was such a straight-laced character that he almost felt unreal.  His strength of character made him a truly sympathetic character, which then highlighted all the different prejudices he and those he loved encountered.  Paul had to worry about the reactions of his mother, his best friend (Chad), his bishop, his friends at school, the people at church, and the other kids in the GSA. It was an enlightening inside view of this character's experiences.

I don't want to simplify this book or its hot button issues in any way, but there is so much to consider.  One thing that I thought was unique was the reverse tension that came from Paul's new gay friends who were angry at his allegiance to his religion.  It's all completely understandable and feels very real in adding to Paul's confusion and isolation.  I would think that regardless of religion, that this book highlights what a teen that is coming out in a strong religious community might encounter.  There aren't any easy or pat answers given in the book, which is probably for the best, but this story tries to tackle them head on.  For starting a dialogue and giving voice to teens also coming out, this book does a really nice job.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a copy provided by the publisher. 


  1. This isn't normally one I'd pick up, but it does sound intriguing! Great review.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  2. Holly--It was well written and I think really shows a reality to this teen's life that other books haven't approached. I'm glad there's a teen book out there that at least addresses it.