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Farther Along - Novella Two  2. The Judas Tree Novellas

   (4 reviews)

Eleven-year-old Simon has a chance meeting, and spends time with an out couple. He is forced to deal with society's fears, and his own prejudice, on what Gay people are supposed to be like. This is pitted against the reality of Greg and Joey as a happy, and ordinary pair.

Please join in on the Judas Tree discussion forum here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/39389-judas-tree-by-ac-benus/


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Timothy M.

· Edited by Timothy M.

   4 of 4 members found this review helpful 4 / 4 members

In this novella Simon again balances on a cusp of danger. Unlike the first story when his body was at risk (which would have led to mental damage too, of course), this time his spirit is under attack. The specter of the Grim Sister looms over him, but Simon knows better than she, what 'the man on the cross' wants him to do. Greatest of all is love, and Simon has begun to recognize the kind of love he is destined for.

He is Farther Along than the eight-year-old self which didn't know what to make of the desert couple or the scared couple. And lucky for him he has the shining example of the 'hairdresser' couple to show him what true love and devotion means and to prepare him for the choice he may have to make: church or love? But Ralph's fate has already shown him that the Catholic Church has something dark and rotten at its core, which should be avoided at all cost, the way he avoided the basement guy in book one and the hateful salesman here.

I still believe the purity of Simon's heart is like the lance of light which cleaves the darkness of evil and lets him escape. But read for yourself and see what you think.

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Defiance19

· Edited by Defiance19

   2 of 2 members found this review helpful 2 / 2 members

Simon is as compelling and magnetic a character as he was in part one of this novella. 

We do indeed find Simon farther along as he continues his journey of understanding just who he is. Disturbed by the small mindedness of some, confused by the opposing teachings and actions of the Church and it's principals ( priests and nuns), he remains vulnerable to the shortcomings of those around him, not quite grasping, but attentive and observing.  Luckily, he is encouraged by the love he witnesses between Greg and Joey. His mother, though conflicted or maybe indifferent, provides Simon with her honest and forthright support. 

 

Simon is intriguing to me because he possesses a mature awareness and such an introspective nature. This comes undoubtedly, with the loss of innocence (and not just for him) in some sense. Or perhaps the feel of having to grow up too soon. He is only eleven and the answers to his confusion remain just out of reach. But, he asks questions instead of conforming or giving in and thus his understanding and choices are his own. We see a definite growth and development in Simon, as he readies for part three of his journey. 

 

AC craftily and exceptionally takes us on this journey with Simon. The story is relatable and I don't think you can read it without calling into question your own opinions and beliefs, or your own questioning and perhaps confused eleven year old self. This is definitely a story I will come to again and again. 

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Lisa

   2 of 2 members found this review helpful 2 / 2 members

Well, I certainly can't beat Tim and William's reviews; they are exceptional reviews. :)

 

I will say, I enjoyed the flashbacks throughout the story of Simon's eight-year-old self. He is definitely farther along now at eleven, than he was three years prior. He's maturing and questioning things more than he did when he was younger. Greg and Joey are wonderful role models for Simon, whether he is straight, gay, bi, transgendered...They show that their love is real like any other love. Simon's mom has the same mindset, which is wonderful, and she is honest with Simon instead of ignoring his questions or pushing the subject under the rug. She is also honest with him about the TV repairman and his older boyfriend. Simon's smart, and he compares how these two men live in contrast to how Greg and Joey live.

 

Religion and the church are very prominent in these novellas, and you certainly shouldn't have to choose between love and the church, but Simon is learning some religions aren't as accepting of everyone as he had previously assumed. Ralphie is an upperclassman who is warning Simon about the priests in the church. At eleven, he doesn't understand why Ralphie is so upset, and when Sister T confronts Simon about this, he is even more confused.

 

In time, of course, Simon will see the light, but that's for another novella.

 

These novellas are wonderfully written, and through AC's masterful words, we are Simon; we feel what Simon feels, we hear what he hears, and sees what he sees. I recommend everyone read these stories; you won't regret it.

 

 

 

 

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William King

   2 of 4 members found this review helpful 2 / 4 members

I had to think about how exactly to word this review of the second book in the series. Why? Because it is always difficult to continue a story, and given that the first book in the series was so very good, it is, one would say – a hard act to follow. Let me say right from the start the author does a great job in taking the story forward.


The book is written with the same insight and fine descriptions, the text flows smoothly off the pages as we follow what happens to Simon. This part of the series is an exploration into the young boy’s growing awareness, which evolves gradually as he himself is growing up. As a part of that growing up process the author a boards some serious subjects, not the least of which is an encounter at the zoo, a recollection of an event that took place when our protagonist was eight years old. 


The scene is set to explore the present day as our now eleven year old begins a journey of introspection. He sees himself reflected in the two gay friends of his parents within who’s care he is left. Throughout the novel there is a contrast between two opposing forces, which one might almost describe as good and evil. This is the essence of the story, encompassing both the serious events and the attitudes of those around him to those events.


We cannot ignore the confrontation with the boy Ralph who attempts to explain his predicament to Simon in such a way that neither boy will suffer. There is also the relationship with these two gay men who are looking after him, and his parents views towards them are starkly contrasted.


Whilst this continuation of the story is very good and I would not fault it, it does not have quite the same impact as the first book. In that first part of the story we had the explosion of child sex abuse. We are now reading the aftermath of that explosion, which simmers in the background. I felt that the crucial and probably more important event here was how Ralphie was dealing with what happened. The focus is however, on life through the eyes of Simon, therefore that part of the story is simply one event amongst others on the road to adulthood.


All in all it is a very good follow up book and if I haven’t given it five stars it is only because the first book was exceptional. You will find the story just as compelling and, of course, we all want to know what happens to Simon. Read it, and enjoy it, I did.

 

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