Verdict: This emotional tour de force is for anyone interested in catching a glimpse of the world beyond the vestments and walking through a hushed, misunderstood life. Don’t miss this honest look at turmoil, confusion, and finally; freedom and identity.
Father Joe Tierney is a gay, Catholic priest who just found out he is HIV positive. We first meet Tierney as a devastated, disguised, man leaving an STD clinic in a part of town where he is sure not to be recognized. His world has basically crumbled, and will continue to break down. Not only is Father Tierney very much in the closet, he is terrified of what this diagnosis will mean if it gets out.
As Joe deals with his crippling discovery, a major newspaper runs a story about Catholic priests with AIDS. Hitting way too close to home, the article makes Joe’s plight a reality that cannot be avoided. When Joe finally confides in Pascal LaVigne, an openly gay friend and fellow clergy member, he feels some relief. Yet tension follows shortly after.
An ex-boyfriend of LaVigne’s is a reporter who wants an inside scoop on local HIV positive priests. Can Joe stay in the shadows as the reporter digs deeper, or will his secrets be revealed? Angela Roth, Joe’s friend (also a clergy member in his parish) gets embroiled in the saga as she discovers something disturbing in the church’s records. The question is, will she be there for her friend, or try her hardest to expose the truth?
As Joe sweats through the possible outcomes, he joins a support group with other infected clergy members. Each time he finds comfort, there is also backlash. The reporter has an inside source, and the group could be exposed. The truth threatens to emerge as each chapter leads deeper into a web of uncertainty.
The man responsible for Joe’s infection doesn’t know and presents a major conflict. Should Joe track him down and tell him? Was there a possible relationship between the two that may not be lost? Questions abound; but will they be answered in time?
Father Tierney Stumbles is a close look at one man’s struggle and what he can or cannot do to overcome the feeling of despair and see beyond the pain of being an HIV positive priest. Shekleton lets readers into a secret world that is already filled with scandal and controversy. This emotional tour de force is for anyone interested in catching a glimpse of the world beyond the vestments and walking through a hushed, misunderstood life. Don’t miss this honest look at turmoil, confusion, and finally; freedom and identity.
Reviewed by Keri English for IndieReader
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