Monday, October 17, 2011

Review of Well With My Soul - Gregory G Allen

HALLOWEEN FUN BOOK GIVEAWAY ENTRY
(books in the giveaway are not necessarily books being reviewed)

Well With My Soul

Well With My Soul by Gregory G. Allen 
Paperback336 pages - ASD Publishing

*I received this book from the author with a request for review. I did not promise a good review nor was one requested. I received no compensation for this review. This review is part of Virtual Book Tours* 

Jacob and Noah Garrett are brothers harboring a lifelong resentment towards each other while dealing with their own compulsive obsessions. One is a liberal gay man who forsakes his family and moves to New York City from Tennessee where he travels deep into a labyrinth of sex and drugs while fighting the fear over his homosexuality. The other is a southern conservative who is left at home holding the proverbial family bag. The story follows their loosely intertwined lives through the wild times of the late seventies and the restraint of the Reagan years in which one brother ends up becoming a minister and preaching his doctrine while the other believes there are some things people are born with and not meant to change. Well with My Soul is told through the perspective of both brothers and shows how misguided choices can drastically affect those around you for years to come; and family may be all that one has when looking for peace to stifle the embers that smolder beneath the surface.

This is not a book for everyone - it contains alcohol use, drug abuse, sexual situations including those of same sex and HIV/AIDS in the early days of the disease. But for those who choose to read it, it is a powerful book. I was captivated by this book. The two brothers with the competition for their mother's love, the relationship between them; filled with love, loathing, jealousy, understanding, forgiveness and heartbreak, the search for God and truth. Their story is real and unflinching. It is a book that makes you search your beliefs and one you want someone else to read just so you can discuss it with them. Well With My Soul is a journey and not an easy one. It is a book you will not forget. You will find yourself thinking on it, the choices everyone in the book made, the choices you make in your life and the beliefs you hold.It is a story that challenges you to search what you believe, look hard at choices you make and the affects of those choices on your life. Ultimately it stresses the importance of knowing yourself and being at peace with your beliefs, especially those dealing with religion. This is a heart-wrenching book. I am not one to cry easily at a book but this one moved me to tears. Actually it moved me beyond tears and to outright crying. Regardless of your religion or your beliefs and feelings about homosexuality, I recommend this book to you. It may or may not change the way you believe or feel but will have you examining the choices you made regarding them. If you have read this book, or read it in the future, I would really like to hear your thoughts on it. If you are uncomfortable writing them in the comment section I invite you to email me them, (cristina@alaskanbookcafe.com). 

Gregory did an excellent job writing this book. The plot was compelling and honest. The characters are so well developed  you not only know the main characters but you know the supporting cast as well. I give this book 5 stars. 
Please leave a comment, (or email me one). 

4 comments:

lori said...

I did read Gregory's book and agree with you. It is not a book for everyone. The subject matter can be uncomfortable for some but if you get past that it is an incredible story. It moved me to tears at times. This story needs to be shared.

Cristina said...

Hi Lori. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment. I hope people do get past the uncomfortable feeling and talk about the book. I found it to be very thought provoking.

Kathy Biehl said...

I think this book actually could get through to people who are uncomfortable with gays. Greg told me you were welcoming comments about it so here's my review, even at this late date:


A journey of two brothers, one gay, one straight, whose wildly diverging choices lead them back to the arms of family.

Jacob and Noah Garrett are the prodigal son and his resentful brother, who narrate the unfolding of their adult lives in alternating chapters monologue-style. Good-looking, self-indulgent Jacob is their mother’s favorite, despite his abandoning career after career -- and ultimately her -- in an ever-morphing quest for gratification. Reliable, responsible Noah stays home, with her, and in the midst of a quite ordinary life gradually undergoes his own voyage of self-discovery. Their paths shepherd one brother to a fundamentalist pulpit, marriage and children, the other into a genuine awakening into forgiveness, grace and appreciation for family, and reconverge in a homecoming with a decidedly (but not heavy-handed) scriptural underpinning. Allen’s memoir-like debut novel deftly recreates the mindsets and ephemera of settings as extreme as his protagonists, from small-town Tennessee in the 70s to the high-flying days (and nights) of Manhattan’s gay community in the Studio 54 years and the AIDS epidemic that followed. Allen, who is gay, has openly grappled with the self-destructiveness, addictions and early death of his elder straight brother (Proud Pants, 2011). Here he has assigned those demons to the gay protagonist, along with few appealing characteristics beyond physique. Befitting Allen’s background as a playwright, the inner dialogues, recounted conversations and story arc ring true. His characterizations are uniformly compassionate and non-judgmental as well (even Jacob’s, and even those of the zealots who attempt to convert him to heterosexuality). They’re largely believable, too, with the exception of the brothers’ ultimate female allies, particularly the girlfriend who becomes Noah’s wife, and whose occasional too-good-to-be-true responses threaten her status as three-dimensional.

The novel succeeds as both entertainment and wise-hearted social history, conveying the primal power of faith and family (blood and chosen) without preaching.

Kathy Biehl said...

Greg told me you were inviting reviews, so here's mine, even at this late date. I believe this book could get through to people who are uncomfortable with gays.


A journey of two brothers, one gay, one straight, whose wildly diverging choices lead them back to the arms of family.

Jacob and Noah Garrett are the prodigal son and his resentful brother, who narrate the unfolding of their adult lives in alternating chapters monologue-style. Good-looking, self-indulgent Jacob is their mother’s favorite, despite his abandoning career after career -- and ultimately her -- in an ever-morphing quest for gratification. Reliable, responsible Noah stays home, with her, and in the midst of a quite ordinary life gradually undergoes his own voyage of self-discovery. Their paths shepherd one brother to a fundamentalist pulpit, marriage and children, the other into a genuine awakening into forgiveness, grace and appreciation for family, and reconverge in a homecoming with a decidedly (but not heavy-handed) scriptural underpinning. Allen’s memoir-like debut novel deftly recreates the mindsets and ephemera of settings as extreme as his protagonists, from small-town Tennessee in the 70s to the high-flying days (and nights) of Manhattan’s gay community in the Studio 54 years and the AIDS epidemic that followed. Allen, who is gay, has openly grappled with the self-destructiveness, addictions and early death of his elder straight brother (Proud Pants, 2011). Here he has assigned those demons to the gay protagonist, along with few appealing characteristics beyond physique. Befitting Allen’s background as a playwright, the inner dialogues, recounted conversations and story arc ring true. His characterizations are uniformly compassionate and non-judgmental as well (even Jacob’s, and even those of the zealots who attempt to convert him to heterosexuality). They’re largely believable, too, with the exception of the brothers’ ultimate female allies, particularly the girlfriend who becomes Noah’s wife, and whose occasional too-good-to-be-true responses threaten her status as three-dimensional.

The novel succeeds as both entertainment and wise-hearted social history, conveying the primal power of faith and family (blood and chosen) without preaching.