Summary: After being outed in his small and highly religious community not long after the death of his parents, Simon is trying to cope with his boyfriend Stephen being sent off to be reprogramed, and becoming the main caregiver of Jude, his twin brother who is mute. It’s a lot to handle for a seventeen year-old, and with only partial support from his brothers, Simon is forced to drop out of high school and get a job to pay for the necessities of life. Tensions run high at home because Simon’s oldest brother Paul thinks he should automatically be in charge, but Simon finds Paul is more fallible than he appears to be. When the house of cards that is their home life comes down, Simon has no choice but to let the cards fall where they may, but having the courage to build his life again is up to him.
Number of Pages: 218
Age Range: 15-17
Review: Simon Peters, aptly named as a nod to Simon Peter, a disciple of Jesus and the rock upon which the Christian church was built, is the rock upon which his family is built after his parents die. His older brother Paul may think he’s in charge, but it is Simon who drops out of school, takes care of Jude, and gets a job so he can help pay the bills. As Jude’s twin he feels a great deal of responsibility towards him, but he fulfills that responsibility out of love, not obligation.
Paul is a bit of a puzzle. Named for Paul, the apostle who has a revelation on the road to Damascus and comes to Jesus after a life of persecuting Christians under the name of Saul, Paul the character seems more like Saul than his reformed, renamed self. He’s definitely the persecutor in their household, getting angry and resorting to physical violence. He also seems to have a lot of double standards as well as being gay is considered a sin to him but his own pre-martial sex is not. Is he headed for a revelation too? I hope so, but it’s not included in Moynihan’s story.
Then there’s Luke. He pretty much flies under the radar, but once again, is aptly named as Luke was the disciple of Jesus who was considered ‘the beloved physician.’ Luke from Moynihan’s book has deferred university for a year after their parents have died, but ultimately he intends to become a doctor.
I love the layers of Moynihan’s writing. Underneath a powerful story about being gay in a Christian community lie many layers and commentary about religious beliefs. I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface with my connections, but there’s more to delve into as this is a book with depth.
What I like the most about Moynihan’s book though is that Simon must work through his own beliefs, coming to the point where he has to make a decision to be who he is, or listen to all of the people telling him he is wrong. Thankfully, he realises the person he should be listening to is Jude, who truly lives up to his namesake Saint Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases, when he finds a way to support his brother and encourage him wordlessly to be who he is. Jude was my personal favourite.
“Our pastor at Cross of Calvary once said during a sermon that God owes us nothing because we are sinners.
Stephen groaned when he heard this. ‘If nobody ever made a mistake, then we wouldn’t even need a God,’ he whispered in my ear.
At that time I just brushed off what Stephen said, deciding to toe the Pastor Ted line a little longer. It was so much easier not questioning everything anyways. But once Stephen was sent away, all there was left to do was question everything. I wasn’t exactly sure who I believed – Pastor Ted or Stephen. But I did know one thing, which was that everyone seems to screw up eventually. So I couldn’t help but wonder; if God really did owe me nothing, why did I feel so betrayed?” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, pages 25-26
“I waited for it and then it happened. He looked at me, just for a spilt second, as he was saying that last part about immorality. I knew he would, and I stared back at him. I could not change who I was. I could hide it or lie about it, but I could not change something that I had no control over.” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, page 84
“I knew that Paul was wrong, but I didn’t feel like arguing with him. I blamed the Lévesques for sending Stephen away but not for making him gay. No one was at fault for that, because there was nothing to be at fault for. I didn’t ask to be this way. Who would ask to be an outcast? Maybe it was easier in some places, but not here. I wanted to believe that God wouldn’t test me more than I could handle. That if I was meant to overcome the way I was, I would have done so by now and Stephen would have too. I hoped that I was right. I just don’t know for sure if I was.” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, page 86
“Great. She must be PMS-ing, I thought. I often wondered how the Captain put up with Lydia’s temper tantrums, and I decided that if being gay meant I could avoid all the female hormonal stuff, then it wasn’t me they needed to feel sorry for.” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, page 118
“But Jude never even mentioned it. He genuinely didn’t care. Maybe he thought being gay wasn’t so much a choice as an existence, not unlike how mutism was a part of his existence and not Paul’s or Luke’s. But at the time his reasons didn’t seem all that important. I felt a heaviness sinking away from me that had been there for so long, it had become part of me. There was nothing I could do to change the Captain’s opinion or the Lévesques’ or Stan Rafferty’s. But Jude’s opinion mattered.” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, pages 124-125
“I sat down next to Mariama and Renee. Sure, I’ll enjoy the service, I thought. I’ll listen to the upbeat music and the sermon, pray and sing a little, and I’ll leave feeling a whole lot better, like a load has been lifted from me. But it won’t be long before the dubt and the anger will creep back in, and I’ll need to find a new church where no one knows me to get my next spiritual fix.” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, page 132
“There would always be people who’d think we were wrong for loving each other, but I knew that I could stop believing they were right. I’d just have to accept that for now, it was only my own mind I could change.” – Simon from The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan, page 218
The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan is published by Amazon Children’s Publishing, (2013).