So I have one more short but positive review to add to the list. This one appeared in last Friday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press, in a book column titled “Worthwhile midsummer fiction from Midwest writers.” You can follow the link to the article by clicking here, but there’s no real need to bother since I’ve reproduced the two paragraphs about No Going Back below:
“No Going Back” by Jonathan Langford (Zarahemla Books, $16.95): “I wanted to write a story that reflected the dilemma of someone whose emotions pull him in one direction, but whose religious commitment pulls in a different direction,” Langford writes in press material sent with his novel about a gay Mormon teenager and his straight friend. Langford, who lives in River Falls, Wis., is a former moderator of AML-List, an e-mail discussion group sponsored by the Association for Mormon Letters.
Your heart will break for Paul, the teen told by church leaders that it’s OK to be gay as long as he doesn’t act on it. Paul’s straight friend, Chad, wants to support his friend but also doesn’t want to become too deeply involved in the school’s organization for gays, lesbians and their supporters. Langford’s dialogue is pitch-perfect, and these boys are as real as the kids you see on St. Paul’s streets.
Okay, so it isn’t much. But it’s positive, and it’s from Mary Ann Grossman, a real-live newspaper book critic (one who isn’t even Mormon). And she liked my dialogue and the realism of my characters. And it’s from a newspaper that covers the area where I currently live, which also seems very nice.
I’d originally contacted her back in March with an email about my book and a query about whether she’d like to look at my book. She said to go ahead and send it, though she made no promises. She also said to make sure to put a prominent note on it about it being from a local author, because she gets so many books that sometimes some slip through the cracks.
So I mailed it, together with a bit of publicity material — four months ago. The next I heard about it was earlier today, when I happened to do one of my occasional Google searches on my name plus book title and happened to find her review, which had just been posted a couple of days ago.
This isn’t a review that I expect will bring me many sales. There just aren’t that many avid followers of Mormon literature in the Twin Cities area. But I’m happy to have it nonetheless: happy the idea occurred to me, happy I followed up and sent it, happy to have this additional evidence that my book seems realistic and can appeal even to non-Mormon readers.