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Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Personal challenges
A Son Called Gabriel
by Damian McNicholl
For the End of Year Mini Challenge.
First line: The choice was school or the big stick and seemed easy to make.
Back cover blurb:
Set in the hills of Northern Ireland in the 1960’s and 70’s, A Son Called Gabriel is a deeply felt and often funny coming-of-age novel that is ultimately unforgettable.
Gabriel Harkin, the eldest of four children in a working-class family, struggles through a loving yet often brutal childhood. It’s a turbulent time in Ulster, and in the staunchly Catholic community to which Gabriel belongs, the rigid code for belief and behavior is clear. As Gabriel begins to suspect that he’s not like other boys, he tries desperately to lock away his feelings, and his fears. But secrets have a way of being discovered, and Gabriel learns that his might not be the only one in the Harkin family.
Thoughts: It took me a while to finish this book because it wasn’t one of those that immediately grabs you and keeps your attention focused on it, and it alone, until you’ve turned the last page. It was good, though, in a quiet and slightly bleak sort of way.
Everyone was very, very Catholic, even if the main character had issues with religion at points, and one of the better bits was actually uttered by one of many, many priests featured in the story. In any other book, I would not have approved of what he said, but in this particular tome his voice felt like one of reason and one of acceptance and almost tolerance. Funny what a little bit of perspective can do, isn’t it?
Speaking of religion, I don’t know the reason behind it, but for some reason my copy of the book arrived with a business card, telling me that everyone breaks at least one of the Christian Ten Commandments pretty much every day and urging me to read the Bible daily, stuck in it. Weird that. Especially since the message was printed in reverse and you had to hold it up in front of a mirror to be able to read it properly (I was able to read it even without the mirror—I’m not stupid, or blind (yet)—but a mirror certainly made it easier).
Anyway, I digress. The final rating of the book is a C. It was good, I do think so, but it wasn’t great and it wasn’t brilliant and it got me down a little, because there did not seem to be any chance at all of the main character for accepting himself for who he was.