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Monday, December 22, 2014

My review of Between These Walls by John Herrick

About the book:

Hunter is a Christian. Hunter is the man next door.

Hunter Carlisle is gay.

At 26 years old, Hunter Carlisle has a successful sales career, a devoted girlfriend, and rock-solid faith. He also guards a secret torment: an attraction to other men. When a career plunge causes muscle tension, Hunter seeks relief through Gabe Hellman, a handsome massage therapist. What begins as friendship takes a sudden turn and forces the two friends to reconsider the boundaries of attraction. 

Along the road to self-discovery, Hunter’s secret is exposed to the community. Now Hunter must face the demons of his past and confront his long-held fears about reputation, sexual identity, and matters of soul.

A story of faith, fire and restoration, Between These Walls braves the crossroads of love and religion to question who we are and who we will become.

Publisher's full disclosure to readers: This novel of faith occurs within a true-to-life context of redemption, and contains adult language and content

My review:

John Herrick is a fantastic writer that knows how to draw you into a character's heart and mind. I always feel a connection to his characters. Given the description, I got the gist of the content. But the beauty in writing a story about internal conflict is that you can dig down deep and make the story go any way you want it to. And that's where the artistry begins.

The content gets a bit heavy at times, which means you almost have to digest it slowly to grasp the heart of the book. But I love novels that make me examine the hard things in life. There are no pat answers, and Hunter asks himself just about every question a man would consider in his situation. It's tough to wrap your mind around the concept if you haven't given it much though. I found the story to be well-thought-out and spiritually sound.

On the surface, the term "gay Christian" seems like an oxymoron. But it's really a story about dark, internal secrets and hiding our true selves from the world. It's a sin like any other sin. The heart of the story is about the struggle. About pretending to be something we're not and how it not only hurts ourselves, but others we love, when we bury things deep inside and let no one in.

What spoke to my heart the most in this story was the deep, emotional conflict Hunter had within himself. The author didn't emphasize Hunter and Gabe's sexual attraction, but focused more on their feeling drawn emotionally to something not really understood, but felt nevertheless. Feelings aren't sinful. God understands that we struggle, which is where grace comes in.

The truth is Jesus came to save us from our sins - both outward and inward. That doesn't necessarily make our struggles go away. Like with the Apostle Paul, who wrestled for the rest of his life with a "thorn in the flesh." God did not take it from him even when he begged for relief. Sometimes our struggles are a part of who we are. We don't know how they started or how they will end. It's all part of the journey we call life. The lesson is to lean on God through it all. Great story and highly recommended.

Between These Walls is available for pre-order on Amazon as an e-book and will be released in paperback format in early 2015. This is a book for my keeper shelf! Pre-order it today so you can get it right when it releases!

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