Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review for Pray the Gay Away by Sara York

Welcome to Sweet, Georgia, a place were bigotry & ignorance is alive and well. Where being gay will bring you in the cross hairs of the bible fanatics. I got this first book in Ms. York's A Southern Thing series for free and this is my objective review of the first book. 

My Rating for Pray the Gay Away- Five Stars and a Recommended Read

For star football player Jack Miller, to everyone else it looked like he had the world in his hands when in all reality his life is one big lie. He doesn’t care about the girls that want to be with him or the success on the field, what he yearns for is a man to call his own but in small town of Sweet, well that just isn’t possible. But all that changes when Jack meets Andrew Collins and finds himself drawn to the young man. But as these two grow closer and their hearts become involved, secrets such as theirs start to unravel and tip people off.

Andrew is determined to keep his head down, try to finish school and then get the hell away from his controlling parents but it all changes when he meets Jack. Now Andrew has someone in his corner, a friend and more in Jack that test the boundaries he has placed on himself. But when Jack’s parents find out Jack is gay, well the gloves come off and the life they were living just about got a heck harder. Can these two young men find a way to weather the storm that is coming and find a way to be the man they want to be rather than what others prefer them to be?

Pray the Gay Away is a story of Andrew and Jack, two people who are as different as night is to day and who find they are falling for one another. Though I have to say, in Sweet, Georgia, being gay means you get the fire and brimstone sermons, lots of praying away the 'sin' that they think being gay is about and more. Ms. York's powerful, emotional story begins with Jack, football star and son of a preacher struggling with who he is. Hiding behind being straight when he longs for a boy of his own to cuddle, go on dates and more. With each page, the reader is drawn into Jack's then Andrew's struggle as they try to get through the last few months of school before they graduate but when they grow closer, sometimes secrets have a way of coming out that will change their lives in ways they never imagined.

Meet Jack. All American boy, football star and just miserable. He has prayed to god to keep his thoughts off guys he finds cute or tries to keep his head down so his father, a fire and brimstone preacher, with secrets of his own, won't discover he has a gay son much less one that is determined to forge his own path in life. You will definitely not enjoy Jack's father because his attitude just made me want to scream and slap him around a few times. 

Meet Andrew. Moving to conservative Sweet, Georgia with his parents was like hell on earth. Determined to keep his head down so he can finish his last few months of high school before leaving forever, he never anticipates that Jack will become his best friend and then something more. With each page, the reader hurts for Andrew (and Jack) as they navigate the world they live in, try to not give away they are together and just survive the day. But for these two boys, struggling with who they are and trying to find their own identity in this small town, well you get a sense a time bomb is about to explode, especially as people become suspicious.

Pray the Gay Away sets up the series so there is a lot of information and characters to meet. It lays the foundation of the series and delivers some really intriguing characters, though there were some who I wanted to smack a few times and say get a clue. This is an author who lets her characters do the talking and boy do they talk. I loved how Jack and Andrew gravitated towards one another and found something worth fighting for. I loved the scenes with Jack’s youngest brother, Billy, who was like a ray of sunshine in a dark world and I sympathized at how this seven year old had to be someone he wasn’t. The author delivers a story so profound that I was amazed that there were places like Sweet, Georgia today. The secondary characters are quite diverse and just as appealing though I have to admit Andrew and Jack’s parents just made me want to scream at times over their attitudes towards the boys and in general. The struggle Jack and Andrew go through to find the person they know they can be was hard to watch and the scenes with both sets of parents left me cold and cringing at times. I want to warn you it can get downright tough to read especially over Andrew’s scenes where his parents use prayer and fasting as tools to change their son from a gay son to a straight son. For me those scenes as well as Jack’s struggle as a son of a preacher who questions what and who he is among other things left me heartbroken at times. The author does a great job in capturing that struggle between Jack and what he was taught so wonderfully well that I had tears in my eyes as his struggles eventually lead him to a person who will steal his heart. Her realistic characters is a testimony as a writer because we all know that someone who has dealt with bigotry and ignorance in some form or another. Her characters take a life of their own and I have to admit, they flew off the pages and into my living room at times. You will laugh, cry and hurt for Jack and Andrew as I did and root for them to find some sort of happiness that won’t cause them pain and suffering. 

I can not stop thinking of these two characters because they are so relateable. Who hasn't faced some sort of bigotry or ignorance in one time of their lives or another? Or even know of someone who does each and every day? Ms. York delivers a story that is powerful and emotionally heartbreaking at times and I can say there is a cliffhanger so make sure you have book two and three to read because you will want to know what happens next for Jack and Andrew. 

Ms. York delivers a story that is so powerful, so engrossing you won’t want to put it down. I can attest this was truly one book I need to read again in the future. You know you found a really great book when hours after you finished the book, scenes still play in your head from it and you wake up the next day wondering how someone can live and thrive in a town so closed off and that being different is almost like a death sentence.  Ms. York, you deliver such a strong story that I am in awe at your talent. Kudos to her in showing readers how ignorance & bigotry can still be found in today’s world and that sometimes, in order to find true happiness, you need to take that first step and say, ‘this is who I am’. 

You can find Pray the Gay Away at Amazon, ARe and other fine online bookstores FREE

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