Of the two men involved, Levi is probably the one who got it easier; through, he had to leave his family, but not since he was disowned: he is from a very conservative Mormon family, who loves him but cannot condone his “lifestyle” (read being gay). His parents, his brothers and sisters, understand it was not a choice that he was born gay, but according to them, he should try to “fight” it, and if he couldn’t bring himself to marry a woman, at least he should be celibate. Instead Levi is living in sin, working as bartender, drinking and having sex with strangers; little by little, above all since Levi, even if always fighting, has a strong bond with his own family, the reader understand that Levi is rebelling against the constrictions his relatives want to impose him, but deep down, he has not denied their beliefs and religion.
By chance Levi meets Jaime, a young and kind man with deep scars inside and out. Without many words, Levi understands Jaime was abused when he was only a child, and now he is emotionally “blocked”. Jaime has sexual desires but he is not able to act upon them; in this situation, there is no chance he can have casual sex with complete strangers, he needs someone he can totally trust, without exception. Apparently Levi is not that man, but he falls in love with Jaime, and he would do everything to be worthy of the trust.
I like that the author was not vague about the abuse Jaime suffered, but at the same time she didn’t go all emotional on it. She gave the right amount of details to the reader so that we understand how tragic it was for Jaime, but she also concentrated more on the chances Jaime has to overcome his past. Even if Jaime is apparently sweet and fragile, the reader understands he has an inner strength that will allow him to overcome his fears.
Another side of the novel I think was well researched and presented is the relationship of Levi with the Mormon religion; in the end, the Mormon culture comes out a winner from this story, truth, highlighting its limitation, but all in all highlighting also how the family is centre stage, and how they can be supporting and welcoming. I think this was the first time I had such a positive insight on Mormon culture, even on the small details like the no-coffee rule.
Amazon: Between Sinners And Saints
Amazon Kindle: Between Sinners And Saints
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Amber Quill Press, LLC (June 15, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle