“Fate has a way of putting in front of us that which we most try to leave behind.” ― Theodore “Mozzie” Winters
In the midst of all the commercialism of the Christmas season, Gale Stanley has offered, in Bashert, a lovely story of what it means for two young men to be gay and to reconcile that with their Jewish faith while observing Hanukkah.
Jonah Stern is spending his first Christmas away from home, having renounced his faith when his parents renounced his sexuality, forcing him to choose between being Jewish and being gay. Since the one isn’t a choice, Jonah gives up on the God that has given up on him, planning to spend the holiday break at Penn State searching for a nice goy to give his virginity to.
As Robert Burns once wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley.” Or, in plain English, they often go awry, don’t they? Jonah thinks he’s found the perfect blonde haired, blue eyed gentile to give himself to, but fate and faith, and maybe even God, have other plans when Jonah meets Aaron Blumberg, a devout Jew who holds to all the traditions of his faith while still remaining true to himself.
Religion is the device through which the author delivers the conflict in this story, and it works perfectly. Jonah reconciling his feelings for Aaron with his feelings for his lapsed faith and the abandonment of his family are the perfect foils—Jonah’s thoughts and feelings sometimes make him his own worst enemy when trying to decide where, or even if, there’s a place for a guy like Aaron in his life. Their communion through the ancient ritual of the menorah and what it means to those of the Jewish faith made me love Aaron for his patience and unwavering belief, so was there really any way Jonah could resist?
Gale Stanley not only charms with the story of a budding romance but makes the reader see the miracle of the lights and the ways in which they helped Jonah understand he could have both love and the belief of his religion in his life.
This one is an Advent win.