As the book continues its successful launch into the marketplace, I want to thank all of the critics who have given my book such positive notices. Also, I need to publicly acknowledge some websites in particular, who have given my book special attention, among them GAY BOOKS MARKETING, the reader's blog RED HEADED BOOK LOVER reviewing new books, who review I highlighted in my last post on Sunday, and lastly, the wonderful website, JOYFULLY JAY, a blog for readers and writers of mostly gay romance fiction,
GAY BOOK MARKETING just ran an incredible spotlight on me and the book, for which I am grateful. If you would like to read it, click on this link:
Yesterday, JOYFULLY JAY ran a guest spot about me and the book that was just awesome. Here is the link to that article, if you would like to check it out:
Now, today, JOYFULLY JAY published a review on SAINT UNSHAMED, which was largely favorable. Below are excerpts from that review:
Review: Saint Unshamed: A Gay Mormon’s Life by Kerry Ashton
May 1, 2019 |
Saint Unshamed: A Gay Mormon’s Life depicts playwright and actor Kerry Ashton’s painful, tumultuous, and empowering journey to physical, spiritual, and emotional truth and healing, and living life as an unashamed gay man. Through the use of metaphor from The Wizard of Oz, particularly the yellow brick road, and anecdotes from his life, Ashton explores his belief that the doctrine of the LDS Church and the shame that religion uses to repress its believers’ inner-selves can lead to levels of repressed shame that are not only harmful to people’s well-being, but may lead to violence and suicide, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community whose very existence is considered an abomination by many.
Saint Unshamed is broken into two parts, both of which involve his years at Brigham Young University (BYU) intertwined with his pre- and post- BYU experiences. In part one, Ashton shares the inner workings of his complex upbringing—a family dynamic filled with a volatile mixture of love, anger, domestic violence, mental illness, secrets, and shame all crammed together under the pressure cooker that is the doctrine of the LDS Church and the need to be, or rather, appear to be the perfect Mormon. He also discusses his early time at BYU and the inner conflict he struggled with throughout college that came with being a gay man being taught that who he is was not only a sin, but changeable if he just tried/prayed/wanted it badly enough. This inner struggle appears to lead him to live a double life full of the highs of friendship and personal achievement and the lows of self-hatred and shame. Tragically, this period also includes a traumatic rape so horrific and terrifying, he would repress it for forty years and struggle with his physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being for just as long. By alternating between his youth and first years at BYU, Ashton conveys how, with Mormon teachings beginning at an early age and the threat of abandonment hanging over the heads of eight-year-old children should they choose not to accept them, he learned a truth that guided the majority of his actions until he graduated from college, and that in subconscious ways, alternately led to him sabotaging his career and health into his forties:
Part two focuses on the latter part of Ashton’s college experience and his life post college, in which the long process of self-healing began. I believe it examines how the clash between doctrine and identity can create a crippling and harmful duality that produces secrets, lies, and a never-ending flood of shame; the tightrope walking of having to use and betray a friend and person you love to hide your shame; the ugliness and trauma of electroshock therapy; and the way in which good intentions can be used in twisted and painful ways. Ashton also illustrates how learning the difference between religion and spirituality and living a truthful life helped heal him and bring him closer to his personal truth and unconditional love.
In many ways, I applaud Saint Unshamed. I enjoy reading memoirs and am impressed by the bravery it takes for people to put their personal pain, inner thoughts, and soul on display for the world to see. Many of Ashton’s words and struggles resonate with me on a personal level.
Saint Unshamed does a good job outlining Ashton’s unique, hard-won journey to self-discovery, acceptance, and living proudly and unashamed, and I can see it being a powerful guide in people’s walks through life.