The Gospel of Winter

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The Gospel of Winter

by Brendan Kiely

Margaret K. McElderry Books | January 21, 2014 | Hardcover

The Gospel of Winter is rated 5 out of 5 by 2.
A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent—but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. Brendan Kiely’s unflinching and courageous debut novel exposes the damage from the secrets we keep and proves that in truth, there is power. And real love.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 in

Published: January 21, 2014

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1442484896

ISBN - 13: 9781442484894

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Touching and Emotionally Riveting Story " The Gospel of Winter" is a compelling and emotionally-charged novel that deals with a sensitive and complex subject with stark honesty and realism. As the story opens sixteen year old Aidan Donovan, a boy from an affluent family fractured by betrayal and separation is struggling to make sense of the abuse he suffered at the hands of a local priest; someone he expected guidance, security and assurance from. Haunted by the shadow of evil, lies and secrecy that have deformed his life, and afraid to reach out for help Aidan has found a crutch to numb the pain in drugs and alcohol. In his deteriorating world he struggles to find a sense stability and normalcy and clings to his friendship with Mark, Josie and Sophie only to find the darkness of the past creeping in and threatening the newly forged bond. Boldly, Brendan Kiely deals tactfully and candidly with an explosive issue that has been headlined in newspapers repeatedly. The plot is well-developed and narrated from Aidan's viewpoint; a boy struggling with the degradation of abuse, the sting of losing his trust and faith,and the uncertainty about his future. This is a riveting page turner marked by graphic language as Aidan and his friend Mark, tormented by a shameful secret,unable to open up to their self-centered parents, each seek a way to deal with their fear and suffering. This is not a story of religious faith gone awry, but a burning lesson that in this secular world and even in anointed positions in the Church there are unscrupulous, sick men who use love and scripture as a weapon to dominant, control and abuse. In this powerful story Brendan Kiely adroitly not only tackles the destructiveness of clerical abuse but touches on the violence and aggression associated with bullying and inherent in the fear of homophobia. But even in darkness there is the light of triumph which he blends in with elements of friendship, courage, forgiveness and deliverance. The characters are well-developed, complex and realistic. Aidan Donovan shattered not only by abuse but the brokenness of his home life is reclusive, morose, fearful and lacking in self -confidence. With the help of his friends he begins to change gathering courage and strength to confront not only his fear but the truth. Gwen Donovan, his mother is a self-absorbed social butterfly struggling to build a life after her separation and ignorant of her son's problems until jealousy over Aidan's love for their devoted and affectionate housekeeper brings an abrupt awakening. T.J. (Old) Donovan his father is a selfish, cold, indifferent workaholic who betrays his family. In a blossoming friendship with Mike Kowalski, Aidan finds a kindred spirit. A popular co-captain on the swim team, Mike seems confident, cool, and self-assured, masking a soul broken by abuse and traumatized by a controlling, manipulative father. Josie Fenton is a young woman with a strong personality and a warm, caring heart, while Sophie Harrington is a little wild, overconfident and cynical. Into this mix add the blatant acceptance and insensitive cover-up of an old priest and the cruelty and sickness of a sexual predator. All these character bring passion, intensity and reality to an intriguing and captivating, debut novel which I couldn't put down and rate highly
Date published: 2014-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving, utterly heart-breaking and wonderfully profound! The Gospel of Winter is a beatifully written novel that is at once moving, utterly heart-breaking and wonderfully profound. Certainly the most emotionally-charged book I've read in a very long time, I was literally unable to put this book down--staying up late at night and hiding the book under the edge of my desk in class to find out what happens next. Brendan Kiely was able to tastefully handle a very dark subject matter, while crafting relatable characters and expressing himself through effortlessly poetic prose. The novel tells the story of Aidan, a teenager living in post-9/11 America from an affluent yet broken home--an absent father, a struggling mother and a deeply religious nanny. Never having fit in with his peers, Aidan has a unique perspective of the world around him and offers a wry and cynical narration. He bands together with a misfit group of friends, each with their own set of troubles, and they navigate the holiday season with the help of pot, pills and alcohol. All the while, Aidan navigates the dark shadows of the Church, the perverted attentions of Father Greg, and his own desperation to find meaning in a life where love, sex and religion are hopelessly intertwined.  While the subject matter was disturbing to say the least, I found it to be handled delicately without the need for gratuitous description. I found myself absolutely engrossed in Aidan's narration and I related, as most of us can, to the way he questioned the world and its motives. The author depicted the mentality of a victim of sexual abuse as accurately as I could imagine, and while that made Aidan's actions at times angering, I never strayed far enough from him as a character to lose his perspective.  Each and every character had distinct motivation for their actions, and their flaws contrasted nicely. Aidan's best friend, Mark, offered an interesting perspective on sexuality and I thought the dynamic between the two was especially fascinating. The way romance blossomed in the novel also reflected the darkness of sexual abuse, and how that can permeate into different aspects of life. Without giving away spoilers, Kiely wrote a conclusion that was satisfying given the circumstances. The Gospel of Winter quickly shot up to claim one of the top spots on my "Favorite Books" list, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone looking for a meaningful read. As I've said, the subject matter is handled very delicately and without very much graphic description. In my opinion, those who have read books such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower will not have a problem reading this book. I very eagerly await Brendan Kiely's next book!
Date published: 2014-03-19

– More About This Product –

The Gospel of Winter

The Gospel of Winter

by Brendan Kiely

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 in

Published: January 21, 2014

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1442484896

ISBN - 13: 9781442484894

Read from the Book

Gospel of Winter CHAPTER 1 In order to tell you what really happened, what you don’t know, what the journalists didn’t report, I have to start at Mother’s annual Christmas Eve party. Two nights before, as if the universe were the coproducer of her big show, a snowstorm whitewashed our little corner of Connecticut. Mother was thrilled. Electric candles in the windows, wreaths on the doors, picturesque drifts of snow snuggled up against the house—everything was “just wonderful,” as her friends would say. Spirits would soar, or at least appear to. That was Mother—survival of the cheeriest—and everyone was ready to suck down her holiday cure-all. We were about to welcome more than a hundred and fifty guests into our home and ignore the fact that although the invitations had been mailed out in late October with my father’s name next to hers in embossed script, Old Donovan was in Europe, where he’d spent most of the year and where he now planned to stay for good. I’d never been allowed to go in Old Donovan’s office, but precisely because he was no longer home, I’d recently made it mine, lurking among his books and curios from around the world, hoping to find some wisdom to fill this awful emptiness widening inside me. If not for the party, I’d have sat in the office all night reading Frankenstein for Mr. Weinstein’s class, but there was the party and Mother was upstairs getting ready, so I said fuck it. If I was going to survive it, I needed a jump start. I locked the door to the
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From the Publisher

A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent—but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. Brendan Kiely’s unflinching and courageous debut novel exposes the damage from the secrets we keep and proves that in truth, there is power. And real love.

Editorial Reviews

* "Kiely’s gutsy debut addresses abuse in the Catholic Church. This is challenging, thought-provoking material, presented in beautiful prose, which explores the ways in which acts rendered in the name of love can both destroy and heal."