The Book of Ethan

by Russell J. Sanders

The Book of Ethan - Russell J. Sanders
ISBN: 1634760042
Pages: 266

Ethan Harker is the son of The Prophet, the stern, demanding leader of a small Southwestern polygamous community. Ethan has had a lifetime of warnings that the world outside his “safe haven” is evil.  One day he is to take his place as the leader of this confined and confining religious group. But things happen—as they do in life—that propel Ethan to flee his stifling community and find his way in the outside world. There he is sheltered by a remarkable group of loving people, thus learning that family is those who love and accept you, not those who try to control you. And amid all this, Ethan once again comes upon black rapper Kyan, a boy his own age. On a rare trip into town a few months before, Ethan caught a glimpse of this exotic creature, a member of a race he has been brought up to fear and hate. Slowly Ethan realizes what “gay” is and that he has fallen in love with Kyan. Fueled by this new love and his new friends, Ethan gains the strength and courage to conquer this confusing world he has been thrust into.

Reviews:Queue on Prism Book Alliance wrote:

The Book of Ethan was a very enjoyable read that doesn’t easily fit into any specific subgenre. Part romance, part coming-of-age and all written extremely well. The author definitely has talent.

Ethan is a member of a religious community (I would call it a cult) known as The Family. He’s the eldest son of the man who leads the community and Ethan is destined to one day be the prophet himself, even though he isn’t thrilled about the idea.

Polygamy and exclusion from the outside world is a large part of The Family, though Ethan gets some time outside the fence when he makes errands into town. During one such trip he sees a young black man performing a rap and is impressed, even drawn to the guy. This is a shock since Ethan has been taught that black people are filthy and stupid.

Ethan hasn’t been sure about The Family’s beliefs for some time but hasn’t really questioned things until a series of events makes him walk away from everything he’s ever known. His journey to a new life leads to amazing new friends, a boyfriend and more.

Organized religions such as the one portrayed here, most likely modeled after certain Mormon factions, fascinate me and I loved the in-depth look. I would say the author has personal knowledge of such religions or did major research. It all felt real to me, as did Ethan’s fears about starting a new life.

My only complaints are that everything went right for Ethan so quickly. He makes friends with everyone he meets, he finds the perfect job immediately, etc. Realistically he would’ve had a few more issues other than a couple panic attacks.

I loved Kyan and Ethan’s relationship but they jumped to saying I love you awfully fast. Kyan’s street talk also got annoying very quickly. Some readers might call it stereotypical but I’m going to say it was accurate. Kudos to the author for that.

Overall an extremely good read and unlike anything I’ve read in the genre lately.

About the Author

Russell J. Sanders is a life-long devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to hundreds of others.

Russell has also travelled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out of the way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food.

Most importantly, Russell is an out and proud Gay man, living in Houston with his husband—a relationship that has lasted almost twenty years. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young Gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work.

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