elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay

I remember Kathryn Shay from the time I was reading het romances, I think I probably read one or two too, so when I saw this novel by her, it picked my interest. I was curious to see how someone who is used to write straight relationship would face the task to move to gay relationship. In a way she didn’t, The Perfect Family, as the same title suggests, is a family story more than a love story, and if we want to search for a romance, the one who is fully developed is that between Maggie, the mother, and Mike, the father; Jamie, the teenager who comes out to his family, has a “high school” relationship with Luke… maybe it’s love, maybe it’s something that will shade away in time, but in this moment it’s the main reason why all the balances in this perfect family is apparently not working.

There are very nice and complex characters; Mike, for example, is a very conservative catholic man, who struggles to accept the idea his own son is gay, but for a simple reason: he does believe homosexuality is a sexual orientation and not a lifestyle choice (his own wife is a psychologist and she is very ready to correct him if he had any different idea), but his church is telling him that, if one is gay, and he is not able to “fight” it, then he should be chaste; Mike, that is sexually active, more, he sometime needs sex as escape (of course always with his wife), cannot accept Jamie will be able to be celibate, and so, the obvious conclusion is he will be a sinner and though condemned to hell. I struggle to accept that a wise and good man like Mike could have such archaic ideas. On the other hand, Mike is probably one of the best husband, and father, I have read about, and so I wanted for him to find a way to do the right thing.

Then there is Maggie; as a psychologist she is probably more ready than other mothers to hear the confession of her teenager son, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier for her. Maggie is almost in the middle, her mother role “pushes” her to be worried, and to be scared, for her son’s future; her psychologist role is trying to convince the mother that everything is fine, that there is nothing wrong with her son, that she should concentrate on him and her husband, trying to not destroy their family with her fears.

In a way I also liked the contraposition between Maggie and Mike, and yes, I also think Maggie failed in dealing with Mike, but in her failing I found a more realistic, and likeable, character. Mike was wrong in a lot of things, but Maggie should have tried to be more open with him, to share more of her worries, and above all the actions she was undertaking to help their son.

The Catholic Church is not a winner but neither a loser in this novel, above all since we have the chance to see different sides of it; there is the conservative wing of Father Pete and Mike’s church; there is the more understanding attitude of the catholic lobby of Dignity, also represented by Mike’s parents; there is the very liberal Unitarian Church that is attending Maggie. All in all, all sides involved will have goods and bads, an in a way, the common understanding is that anyone needs to believe, the God is always the same, only the churches worshipping are different.

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Perfect-Family%2C-The-%252d-by-Kathryn-Shay

Amazon: The Perfect Family
Amazon Kindle: The Perfect Family
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160282181X
ISBN-13: 978-1602821811

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: kathryn shay, genre: contemporary, length: novel, review, theme: coming of age
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