Review: Inclination by Mia Kerick

Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans. Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.

Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?

This book. Oh my goodness, this book. What can I say? Mia Kerrick does it again, so wonderfully, beautifully well. I have a great love for well written YA books, I feel often times they have more depth to them than adult novels in a strange way. Maybe because the characters are just heading towards their adult lives and independence, maybe because they have the whole world before them, theirs but for the right choices. I don't know, but I find the characters often very engaging.

Mia Kerrick has written about difficult situations before - bullying, domestic many different ways. She always, always, gives her characters a challenge. The fact that her characters are gay can sometimes be the secondary worry amongst the other crap they are dealing with in life. In this book though, the two issues have a direct link to each other, at least in the head of MC Anthony. Anthony is a devout catholic, the ultimate good boy, who is struggling with his own acceptance of being gay and how this affects his relationship with God.

If, like me, the fact that this book is written about religion may seem off-putting, I would urge you to read it because it is pure brilliance. I had some unease when I started reading, the way Anthony is, his belief so strong, is so far from me and my experience that I wondered if I would find it hard to connect to him as a reader. I should not have feared because I understood him perfectly. I was rooting for him from so early on - and not as I thought to ditch his religion and accept his sexuality, and that is because of how clever Mia Kerrick is.

I wanted Anthony to have both. His faith is so strong and important to him, it is as much part of who he is as his sexuality. It is a fundamental part of him and his life, and I loved how Kerrick kept this and didn't write him as someone who loses his faith. Writing as a reader who has no specific beliefs but respects those others have, I wouldn't have found this halfway as believable if Anthony ditched his beliefs. It wouldn't have been him.

That's not to say this book wasn't damn hard to read at times. So hard. Any sort of homophobia is hard to read about. Any form of bullying, of violence, of friendships being torn apart - and really this is the catalyst for this whole story. One devout boy trying to come to terms with the fact he's gay and losing the support of those he trusts the most at the time he is most vulnerable. How often is that the case? Too frequent I'm afraid. In this book, in the space of one meeting Anthony loses the strong group of friends he has had around him since he was young. He comes to realise that they areas much a clique as every other group, but at that moment it is heartbreaking. Even his best friend turns against him. It's so hard to read.

Two things though are there to help Anthony deal with all of his pain. Firstly, I have to mention his family. It would have been so easy to turn them into non-supportive antagonists, yet Kerrick did the opposite and instead they fully support their son, they worked with him to try and make it possible to align their faith in God and Anthony's sexuality. His family were amazing. Like truly brilliant - if only everyone had this support at home, the world would be a happier place.

The second thing - or person - was the second MC, David. David has walked the path that Anthony is on and is there to help guide Anthony to a place of reconciliation. Reconciliation between himself, his beliefs and God. Although religion is the theme of this book it really is about so much more. It is about self-belief, about family and friends, about trust. Mostly though it is about love. Love between Anthony and Jesus, love between Anthony and his family, and the burgeoning love between Anthony and David.

I don't think whatever review I write will do this book justice and I would urge everyone to read it. Please don't feel you need to have a faith to read it, or that it is going to either try and convert you to religion or tell tale of the evils of religion. It shows quite clearly the good and the bad and how much a burning faith is a part of who Anthony is and how he works to make it still the focal of his ever-changing life.
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A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

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