Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Dan Skinner’s latest offering, The Bible Boys, is a blistering but truthful view of how religious indoctrination can produce homophobic progeny that are ruled mindlessly by the most narrow of biblical views. However, woven into this unfiltered view is also a sweet, coming-of-age love story.
Matthew was raised in an insulated hyper-religious home where doors where removed from rooms and “correction” was administered with a thick paddle. His parents blindly followed the teachings of a home grown church that took the bible as law and then some. Rules were meant to be followed and chaste behavior was the word of the day. For Matthew, this environment was not only stifling, but led him to lead a life of fear and guilt. Poor Mathew was gay. Not only that, but he hid every facet of his sexuality from his parents and Pastors, creeping into a shed to masturbate and becoming a shadow in his own home. The church ran his life and that of his zealot parents and Matthew feared he would never escape the life that was threatening to suffocate him.
To add insult to injury, Matthew was also pretty. Handsome in a breathtaking kind of way and the other boys in church despised and envied him. Then a new boy joined the church. A farm boy who seemed to get along with the other bible boys, yet still managed to walk to the beat of his own drum. Caleb Clare was not like the other boys. Partially due to the fact that his father did not buy into all the church had to offer, but rather attended out of love for his wife, Caleb had much more freedom than the other bible boys. He and the retreat weekend on his farm for all the bible boys would be the catalyst that would change Matt’s life.
The Bible Boys takes aim at restrictive religions that have the gall to say that any deviations from the strict word of god will land you in hell. More importantly, any form of sexual misconduct is wrong. Needless to say, the view on homosexuality is scathing in this type of faith. I felt as though occasionally the author indulged in a bit of a rant against religion as a whole. This was definitely his take on an admittedly narrow religion, the likes of which surely exist in real life and for that I do not find fault at all with the way he chose to portray his characters. However, I felt at times that the love story suffered at the hands of the relentless pursuit of exposing all the flaws of such a religion and could sometimes become repetitive and just too much.
Where I felt this novel excelled was in the pairing of Caleb and Matt. Theirs was a delicate and beautiful love that grew rapidly and yet, believably. It was a first love and left us so hopeful for them and it’s survival at story’s end. Once again, author Dan Skinner shows his uncanny ability to paint characters rich in both flaws and virtues and by doing so create real people whom we can not only relate to, but also embrace.
The Bible Boys by Dan Skinner teaches a valuable lesson in believe in yourself and not allowing anyone to tell you that you are not deserving of love and happiness. It is a beautiful coming of age story that will warm your heart.