Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: No Going Back by Jonathan Langford

No Going Back by Jonathan Langford
Publisher: Zarahemla Books
Publication date: October 2009
ISBN: 9780978797195

Source: e-copy provided by author

No Going Back 

Paul is an unusual young man.  He's gay, but he's also a Mormon and he'd like to stay one.  When he finally tells his best friend, Chad he freaks out.  But, Chad doesn't want to end their friendship over that.  As they continue to hang out, despite some awkwardness, Paul struggles to find a place he fits in and feels comfortable.  Paul faces all kinds of challenges from seemingly every direction, but also finds help from several unexpected places.  

Things I Liked:
This is definitely an author with guts.  With a main character professing to be both gay and Mormon, there are lots who could take offense.  I found myself entirely impressed with the skill and ability that Langford was able to capture the essence of what it must feel like to be torn in such a way.  Paul felt very realistic to me - a teenager with the regular problems and a whole lot more stacked on his plate.  I found myself getting a bit teary in places over his conflicting feelings and decisions. 
I particularly loved the bishop in the book, who showed compassion and help instead of judgment and condemnation.  I also think the book shows the many varied attitudes and reactions of people both Mormon and non-Mormon to a gay Mormon teenager.  Being LDS myself, I liked the perspective it gave me, because it had correct church doctrine, but also how individuals in the church interpret the doctrine (correctly or incorrectly).  It's a unique book in its subject and its treatment of that subject.  I especially liked how the ending was not so much happy as hopeful.  I thought this quote from the book described essentially what it was about:
"I guess I was just hoping...I don't know, maybe I culd find some kind of balance.  Some way I could stay in the church and do what I'm supposed to do, but still spend time with people who understand what it feels like to be gay, who won't get all freak out about me liking guys." p 211
Things I Didn't Like:
I did find the other story lines to be distracting, even if I understand why they are included.  It felt like it was getting off track sometimes when it followed them.  Also, I'm with Britt of Confessions of a Book Habitue in stating that I don't know who to recommend the book to.  I think it would offend some Mormons and I think non-Mormons might misunderstand it or just get bored with some of the doctrine and preaching that goes on.  Definitely for Mormon teens struggling with this issue and their parents.
I honestly can't think of any, perhaps a bit like The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith, though I haven't read it yet

s-factor: !@#
lots, but no f-words

mrg-factor: XX
teenage boy talk and one incident, not described in detail

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Any thoughts on this?
Please keep your comments polite or I shall be forced to delete them :)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I am truely impressed with No Going Back and I liked the ending. I think for me towards the end during Paul's real trials with his being "outed" is when I really felt for him. I think, no I know, this is when I was brought to tears the most. I love Jonathan's references to Ether. My favorite chapter in Ether is chapter 12. When my husband finally decided after 14 years of excommunication to commit and come back to the church the Bishop suggested that he read Ether chapter 12. He came home from that meeting and we sat down together and read it together and discussed it at length. It has since become my source of strength when things get rough for me and I can never read it without finding something new. I also love Brother Schmidt. Every ward needs a Brother Schmidt to bring us up short and make us realize our own shortcomings and help to humble us. What is that hymn? Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses by Eliza R. Snow. I love the message. It says it all in that one hymn. I also love the message the Bishop delivers to the scouts at the scout campout. We are supposed to be a loving and caring people. It still amazes me how many members of the church are not as loving and caring as the church teaches us to be. How stiffnecked they are. The fact that Paul moves away at the end of the book, kind of symbolizes for me a new chance, a new beginning. Like Christ gives each one of us and you have seemingly tied it in with Chad and Paul as each boy is blessing the sacrament...a renewing of our covenant each week with Christ. When I had my surgery on my right leg my Bishop gave me a blessing and in that blessing told me to take the recovery time to study the Atonement and the scriptures. I have been doing that ever since. I have been reading everything and have learned so much that I didn't know before and have learned there are so many forms and ways of atonement for each one of us. That Christ has atoned for us in more than one way. You have shown yet another way, another form of atonement and that each one of us has our own burdens to carry, our own sins to atone for in one way or another. We never know what burdens someone else carries so who are we to judge someone else when we can't even live our own lives the way we should? I love the way Paul has made the decision from the beginning that he is a believing Mormon and has decided that he will follow the teachings of the gospel. I know as a young girl, i decided not to date outside of the church. When I was a senior in high school, I went against that principle and dated the most handsome boy I had ever met and fell madly in love with him. The time came though when his parents found out that I was a Mormon(they were Catholic). He had been going to church with me and to the youth activities and liked the youth and the activities. When his parents found out, they were livid. It didn't take long, when he gave me a choice. It was him or my religion. I would have married him in a heartbeat had he asked me, knowing I could convert him. This was different though. I knew even though I loved him, I would not give up my religion for him or anyone else. Hurt? Heartbreak? Yes! Regret? Never! But I learned that you stick to what you know is right. I never dated outside of the church again. I married a wonderful man in the temple several years later. Yes, he has made some mistakes, but not anything we have not been able to work through. The same with Paul, he has some real struggles to work through in his life, but he will be able to do it. He has the Lord on his side and of having the gospel in his life and of having made the decision before hand of livng the gospel. Thanks for writing this wonderful book. Any new ones on the way?

  2. flsongbyrd, thanks for your comments! I am not the author of the book, just someone who was reading it and reviewing it. You can find out more about Jonathan Langford at his website here: http://www.langfordwriter.com/

  3. I'm glad you liked it too, Melissa! I was sooooo nervous to read/review it.

    I'd like to see more from Langford!


  4. Britt, I was quite nervous too. So glad I didn't pass up on it. I'd definitely read more from him as well.


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