Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Release Day Review: WALKING BY FAITH by A.M. Leibowitz

Walking by Faith
Author: A. M. Leibowitz
Date of Publication: November 1, 2016
Series: Yes (this is a prequel)
Genre: Gay Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Genderqueer

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For Becket “Cat” Rowland, falling in love has never been easy. The summer he meets Micah Forbes, the intensity of his feelings brings back all the memories of eight years earlier.

Following a brutal attack that left him nearly dead, Cat is a mess inside and out. To cope with the trauma and with his view of himself that he’s nothing but an empty shell, he’s taken three vows: simplicity, chastity, and silence. His once colorful, trendy, and often feminine wardrobe has been replaced with jeans and t-shirts, and he’s sworn off men. He locks himself away from the world, using the memorized prayers of his childhood as his only speech.

Cat is lost to himself and everyone around him until another hospitalization introduces him to nurse David Simms. David takes Cat’s silence in stride, caring for him without pushing and slowly building Cat’s trust.

Outside the hospital, Cat discovers he has more in common with David than he knew, and they begin to build a friendship. As it slowly grows into love, David reveals his own need for someone to take him as he is. Cat begins to let go of his vows one by one, only holding onto the silence.

Despite how far he’s come, Cat’s increasingly severe panic attacks threaten to undo everything David has helped him build. Cat’s only hope is to break the final vow and tell the truth about the night of his attack. When David fails to keep a promise he made to be there for him, Cat has to stand on his own and prove to himself he’s strong enough to survive.

Carra's Review

Talk about putting yourself through the wringer while reading a story...

Heavy on angst, pain, loss and drama, Walking By Faith was a highly emotional tale that tells Cat's story from his point of view.  It puts us in his shoes as he goes from his self-assured, exuberant self to a shell of who he once was-calling his identity and self into question following a horrific physical attack that is made unimaginably worse due to Cat's existing medical conditions.  The author tells Cat's story so well that you can clearly empathize with his pain, suffering and loss of self-making his journey back all the more uplifting and emotionally moving.

The story goes back and forth across an approximately eight year gap, showing us what happened in his past to thoroughly break Cat's mind, body and spirit, and also how he heals with the help of David...and then in the more recent times, gives us a glimpse into his relationship with Micah.  Some books that bounce back and forth in time can be confusing or leave me irritated, but that didn't happen here-the jumps in time were not over-used, and it was very clear what was happening and when.

Cat is an amazing character.  I wanted to carefully wrap him up in my arms to keep him safe, but also loved how his fiery attitude would come back, showing everyone around him that he is still capable and needs to heal on his own terms.  Now I do want to confess-I am not religious at all...as in absolutely zero.  So Cat's reliance on his religion and faith is to me personally not easily understandable, though it is obvious from reading that it brings him comfort and a semblance of control when things are getting emotionally out of hand for him.  When I was first reading this story and the religious elements were coming in to play, I was worried that it would turn me off from the book...but the story and characters are so strong, it turned out not to be a problem for me.

I also need to tell you how much I adored David.  He is completely understanding of Cat's situation and Cat's need to adhere to his vows following the attack.  He never pushes Cat, and goes at whatever pace Cat wants to set.  David has his own health issues, and is in a unique position to comprehend Cat's limitations.  He is a perfect match for Cat, and in the end I did wind up needing some tissues for how things turned out.  We don't get to see much of Micah in this story comparatively speaking, so I'm looking forward to reading his story in Passing on Faith.

I'm so glad I  read Walking by Faith, it was a 4.5-star read for me and I'd highly recommend it to fans of gay fiction/romance who can appreciate genderqueer characters in the stories they read.  This story is meant for readers 18+ for adult language, a scene of violence that might be a trigger for some readers, and M/M sexual content.

About the Author

A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.

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