Hell, and God, and Nuns with Rulers by John Collings

Hell, and God and Nuns with Rulers

Reviewed by Please Pass the Books

In John Collings’ Hell, and God, and Nuns with Rulers we meet Tristan Adamson, a teenage boy with all the trappings that a young man in high school faces: struggles with grades, a part-time job at a burger joint, raging hormones, the unfortunate complexion of a pubescent teen, and parents that seem to understand absolutely nothing (although they certainly claim to). However, unlike the average teenage boy, Tristan has an added conflict that arises from the expectations of his bible-thumping parents and the dreaded classes meant to prepare him for the holy sacrament of Confirmation. As Tristan attempts to maneuver his way through the muddled and confusing question of faith, he is thrown into an even deeper degree of soul-searching on his own personal crusade while trying to come to terms with his sexuality.

This book was not what I was expecting at all. When I initially read the description I settled down and tucked in to what I thought would be a standard coming-of-age story with a Catholic school twist. I was immediately blown away by the intelligent, almost satirical nature of Collings’ writing, which was straight-forward and authentic to the age and acrimony of a teenage boy. Tristan has a distinct tone—a real voice—and it is instantly potent. The text is simple and striking, standing in contrast (but still cohesively) with Collings’ evident gift of description. The characters are all well developed and heavily layered, with a particularly clear depiction of Thomas and Tessa, who both have firm and forceful supporting roles. Tristan’s struggles and the powerful message that unfolds makes this book a must-read for parents and teenagers alike, offering a well-written voice of reason in situations where many—in real life—might feel there is neither hope nor reason at all. I applaud both John Collings and Hell, and God, and Nuns with Rulers for delivering a message that is far too often overlooked within a story that is both raw and captivating.

Five Stars.

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