I can't decide on the rating. It's something between 3 and 4 stars. There are parts that I really liked and some that I didn't, that I felt exasperated by.
This book is full of religious talk, religious soul-searching, "what is right and wrong in the eyes of God and Jesus?", "who will (and for what reasons) burn in Hellfire?" & "how to save the poor, misguided but perverted degenerates from their wrong, wrong
path?". Some heavy stuff right there. And not nearly as relevant today anymore as once upon a time. Progress and common sense be thanked.
Well, or at least I'd like to think so. Because I personally don't know any person among my friends, work colleagues, fellow students or even just acquaintances who thinks that homosexuality is wrong or a sin.... But then again, I live in a big, modern, multicultural and diverse city known for its great Gay Pride parades and its fairly big LGBTQ community, so my experience might be quite different from others, especially people living, e.g. in smaller towns. And smaller towns in the US? -Well, since I'm not from the USA, I can only judge its openness from TV and Hollywood -- and those, at least, seem to be very
open and accepting...
Although recent developments let me to seriously doubt that America is as progressive, modern, great, open as it wants the rest of the world believe it to be... I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about....
No country is, unfortunately, free of hillbillies and hatemongers. More's the utter pity when these people get to be parents, teachers or preachers of persons who are different from their defined 'normal', who struggle with who they are. Because all these backwards people can offer such a person is hate (rather than acceptance) and stir up self-loathing and desperation in them.
So, this book might offer the one or other teenager who is struggling with a crisis of identity, sexuality and/or faith comfort and give them the strength to be who they are instead of who they are expected to be...
As for me, since I am a convinced atheist who thinks that any and every religion can be and is poisonous for a countless number of reasons and is, quite frankly, a man
-made invention, ... well. I think all this talk about "is homosexuality wrong in the eyes of God; is it a sin?" couldn't be less relevant or important. Because in my opinion there's no God who judges any of us for our actions, life choices, and least of all for who we love. Even if there was, for the sake of argument, a God why would He/She/It care about anybody's sexuality?? The Bible, as well as any other religious book (that is known to me, at least) is full of discriminate, misogynistic stuff made up by men. Stuff that is as archaic as the time it was first written down... (I know, religion and faith are impossible to argue about because they're simply unverifiable, so any discussion thereof is just endless, unsolvable and pointless... but this is my very humble opinion.)
Why does my stance to religion matter at all, in terms of my review of this book, you may ask? Well, because while reading "Lead Me Not" I could hardly relate to the characters or their struggle. I was totally exasperated at times, yelling "Who the fuck cares what the Bible has to say about homosexuality?" at my Kindle. I simply can't comprehend why anyone would care about what some people, some men, wrote on a piece of paper, in a book thousands of years ago and declared to be God's Word. Especially since His supposed Word is far from clear, undisputed and un-ambiguous.
So, you might see my dilemma.
Because here we deal with not just one, but two very Christian protagonists who imploringly ask God what His plan for them is. Ask Him to help them. To lead them towards the righteous path. And they do so frequently, throughout the whole book.
I couldn't care less. Tbh.
But, even despite all this, and despite the clichés -- about hate-spewing preachers talking about damnation and sin and hellfire, about the 'gay lifestyle' and its relation to promiscuity, about parents throwing their children out due to being gay, them ending up on the street, hustling, possibly contracting diseases, being raped etc.** -- I found myself enjoying this tale of self-discovery and love.
Even though I couldn't relate to their religious struggle, I could relate to their general struggle of accepting oneself, of finding love, of overcoming obstacles. Both characters grew on me, made me sappily rooting for them to get their HEA. Which was a surprise, really. But I ended up liking the books despite myself.
And since I was lucky enough to grab this book for free, I feel generous enough to round my rating up to 4 stars.
So, even if religion isn't something you relate to, especially not the hardcore preaching kind the book entails, it is possible to enjoy the journey of these two characters. I certainly was drawn into their drama.
(**I am aware that that can happen, that it's the harsh and terrible reality for some people; and every single time it happens is one time too many! But still, as far as books/fiction about gay romance go all of this is an often used cliché... The tortured hero(es). And love heals all wounds, even ones as horrible as this.)