Book Review: Well With My Soul by Gregory G. Allen
I first received Gregory G. Allen’s novel Well With My Soul as part of a blog book tour and was supposed to have reviewed this title back in November I believe. I definitely can’t say I regret my decision to stop participating in blog book tours where I was expected to commit to a post date before even seeing the book for the first time. I read widely and only for pleasure and it just didn’t suit me to have to force myself to work through some title I just was not in the mood for to meet a certain post date. But I have to say, I’m really pleased that I had the opportunity to read Well With My Soul.
Jacob and Noah are brothers who grow up in a small town in Tennessee. The older Jacob realizes from a very early age that he is gay. Jacob is also very much his mother’s favorite while younger Noah adopts something of a bad boy persona and is often drinking and staying out until all hours. But as soon as he comes of age, Jacob and his boy friend move to New York City and Noah is left to oversee their mother– whom he never did quite learn to talk to–in her cruel passage from cancer. While Noah at first seems to be the not so bright bad boy, he evolves into a successful novelist who at length also moves to New York City where he and Jacob have a genuinely shocking second act.
Some years ago I remember seeing a movie at a friend’s home. I don’t remember what it was called nor the actors’ names. The film opens on a black man receiving some kind of award at a business dinner, goes on to his going home with his beautiful wife. And they walk in the door of their gorgeous house and he tells her “Pack bitch, I’m dumping you.” I was so Shocked by this scene that my hosts had to turn the movie off. The revelation that Jacob decides to become a professional preacher, of some never defined vaguely Protestant sect, renounces homosexuality and marries a woman and has two kids by her was for me an utterly jarring sort of plot twist. I’ve read dozens of novels where a young gay protagonist goes off to the big city for a coming of age story. I’ve never before read a well-written novel about two brothers struggling with sexuality from such opposite ends who wind up in such very different places than where they began.
I’m just the slightest bit hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend Well With My Soul— the mid-book plot twist really bothered me a great deal. But I was by that point hooked in the story and continued reading to the very end to see how it turned out. I will not reveal the final plot twist, as I don’t in any way want to discourage anyone from reading it if they think they might like it. But I do have to say that while believable the ending was a cliche. Well With My Soul— Cautiously Recommended to those who enjoy well written psychological fiction.