Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: Leaps of Faith by A.M. Leibowitz

Title: Leaps of Faith
Author: A.M. Leibowitz
Published: July 12, 2017
Categories/tags: LGBT literature, Christian fiction, bisexual, genderqueer, romance, contemporary, disability

Synopsis:
From Christmas to Easter and from childhood through the end of life, here are ten interconnected stories revolving around one couple and the people who love them. These are tales of friendship, family, sensuality, and all the intimate moments that make them who they are, together and apart. The stories, while standalone, also fill in the gaps before and around the events in the novels in the Passing on Fatih series. Included: a youth embraces his identity; two women build a life together; a former rebellious teen finds her way; a pair of lovers explore each other's minds and bodies; a man copes with loss and grief.

Review:
It's no secret that I love character-driven fiction, which is also why I love book series. Whilst a skilled author can realistically depict characters within a single volume, portraying them in such depth that I leave the book knowing them as well (if not better) than I know people in the physical world, it's a snapshot relating to a specific time period or event in those characters' lives. Yes, it may well be perfect as it is, but sometimes (when the author gets it right) I want more.

If reading a single book is like people you meet on holiday - where you might spend an intensive week or two in their company before a teary but welcome farewell - then a series is more like your neighbours: people you see every day over a prolonged period. You get to witness their ups and downs, and perhaps, if you're friends too, join in their celebrations and mourn their losses.

So to A.M. Leibowitz's most recent release: Leaps of Faith.

Awesomely for me, it's part of a series, along with Passing on Faith, Walking by Faith (both already available) and Keeping the Faith (due for release later in 2017).

Leaps of Faith potentially works as a stand-alone collection of short stories - it's hard to tell, as I've read (and reviewed - links at the end) the first two full-length novels, and I'd recommend everyone else do the same.

Note: there will be spoilers if you, um, leap right in there and read this collection first.

The recommended reading order:
Passing on Faith
Walking by Faith
Leaps of Faith
Keeping the Faith

Whilst the titles give a clear indication that religious belief factors significantly in this series, there's absolutely no evangelising. I'm an atheist, and I approach books with religious elements with a great deal of caution, but in these stories, there's balance between the main characters' different experiences with religion, and at times, it's heavy - emotionally as opposed to theologically.

And it's really, really good.

How I see Leaps of Faith is this: those conversations you have with friends whom you've known for ages yet still there are little mysteries to be uncovered.

I heard Micah's side...
Then Cat's side...

I know them pretty well, but then there's that night when we both drank too much wine and I asked, 'When did you realise such-and-such about yourself?' And they answered, 'Well, back in Sunday School, we were doing the Christmas play, and...'

Or we meet at the bus stop and I ask innocently, 'How's your friend Zayne getting on?' Anecdotes ensue, and it dawns on me what a privilege it is to be granted this extra peek into their lives.

Without giving anything away, Leaps of Faith offers glimpses into the extended lives of Cat and Micah, the beautifully complex couple at the heart of this series. The stories tackle some really hard stuff (the author includes a note at the beginning with an indication of content some might find difficult to read), but this is done with sensitivity and integrity. There's humour - even in the bleak moments - and there's sexy times too. But there's no artificial 'shock and awe' factor, no unnecessary titillation - just life, in all its pain and glory.

My review of Passing on Faith
My review of Walking by Faith

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.

Social Media:
Blog | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Tumblr | Google | Pinterest


Thanks for reading,
Deb

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