Marc reviews ‘The Shattered Door’ by Brandon Witt. The third edition of this book was published by DSP Publications on February 28th, 2016 and is about 439 pages long. The audiobook version was published by Dreamspinner Press on August 27th, 2015, was narrated by Andrew McFerrin and is 11 hrs and 51 mins long. This book is available on Kindle Unlimited.
After a tortured childhood and years of soul-searching, Brooke Morrison has finally settled into a comfortable life. While his sexuality prohibits him from practicing his degree in youth ministry in a church setting, he has found a fulfilling job as a youth counselor at a residential treatment facility in Colorado. He falls in love, marries the man of his dreams, and makes peace with God. He’s happy.
Then his buried past drags him back to the Ozarks.
The life Brooke has worked so hard to build is crumbling in his hands in the face of painful memories and past abuse, and his confidence is withering. In El Dorado Springs, where his nightmares come to life, Brooke desperately seeks closure life doesn’t offer. Brooke must find value in himself, in his marriage, and in the world around him – and create the hope and perseverance to keep his past from swallowing him whole.
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This book has been on my TBR since 2013. Yes, that’s right. It took 4.5 years for me to get the up the courage to finally read this truly beautiful, yet devestatingly heartbreaking book.
I have heard so much about it from people who loved it, but who were emotionally shattered after reading this story. It became one of those reads, where I knew it would be amazing, but I would not be able to read it with my heart intact. This special category of books usually takes me longer to get to, because I have to be in the right mood and steel myself (books like ‘Chase in Shadow’ by Amy Lane, ‘Bloodlines’ by Andrea Speed or ‘Something like Autumn’ by Jay Bell). But they are unforgettable. So, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but if you are ready for this journey, I am certain you will not regret it.
I am so glad that this story was produced as audiobook, because I have more time to listen to stories than I have to read them (I’m a very slow reader). I have listened to tons of audiobooks, but I have to say Andrew McFerrin truly impressed me here. This story is complex and emotionally charged and he did a brilliant job. I can strongly recommend the audiobook, if you enjoy listening to books like I do. He truly delivers on the kind of on-point narration that this beautiful book deserves.
This book is not a mere romance. The gay romance is an important part of this book, but certainly not the focus. However, for me the romance was the anker I needed when the angst of the book tried to crush my heart again and again. Brooke Morrison, the main character, finds his perfect guy in the first part of the book. A great guy, with a wonderful, rich and welcoming family. It gives the couple a very strong foundation with a security net. The is someone truly special and it is clear the two belong together. A fact that is so clear that even the MC does not question it. Mostly.
Both the MC and his guy (as well as most of their friends and family) have faith and Brooke’s relationship to god is very important to him. He knew he was attracted to guys from a young age and it seemed to be a sin to him and threatened his view of the world. He wanted to be good and worthy for god, but was never able to ‘pray the gay away’ and constantly thought he was disappointing god. That was until he just accepted himself and found that brought him closer to god again than anything else.
Even while not all people of faith accept his sexuality, his own faith gives strength to Brooke and has always been important to him. I love that he was able to find himself and accept his sexuality. I have always been interested in religion and was raised catholic, but even when I realized I was gay, I still felt loved by god. When I came out, all the people I know who are very religious like my grandmother and a few of my friends supported me without blinking. Even though the church as a whole is often 10 steps behind the times, there are many people who understand god’s will in loving each other and see everyone as god-made and perfect, just as they are. Even if they may not personally understand same-sex attraction.
Homosexuality and Faith are two topics that do not seem to go together easily, but the author does an amazing job of showing the beauty of Brooke’s faith and the strength it gives to him (something he wants to share with young adults who are struggling), but also the difficulties he has at times. It makes certain things more problematic for him, closes some doors for him permanently and makes him very vulnerable for attacks.
There are many very different characters with different views on god and homosexuality and Brandon Witt manages to humanize even the most mean-spirited and poisonous persons, without excusing their behavior. There is a truly wonderful cast of characters; some of them very unique and unforgettable, all of them lovingly crafted by the author even in their flaws. There are also very difficult characters who are easy to judge and hate, but who are treated with grace and more understanding from the author than I would have been able to come up with for them.
Over time, as readers follow Brooke as he confronts his difficult past, we learn terrible things that have happened to him and other characters that are truly heartbreaking and give new insights into many characters. Readers start to understand how complex and mult-layered they are, just like we are as humans.
There are many problems Brooke has to face and I loved how realistically the author handles them. No Deus-Ex-Machina here, with all the problems suddenly solving themselves or someone being able to resolve them through a string of most fortunate and puzzling miracles. Some things are bad and unfair and stay that way, because there are no easy solutions. Some things that threaten to blow up in the biggest, most dramatic way, end up being resolved in a much more quiet and unexpected way. It felt real to me and thus I was much more invested.
The journey of Brooke’s life is full of unexpected twists and turns. It is full of love and faith and friendship. It is full of unexpected support and unimaginable hatred. It is full of heartbreaking grief and unending hope. It shows us the best and the worst of people. The things that we can change and the things we need to accept. It is a truly complex and well-written story of a man, who has captured my heart forever. I was captivated by Brooke’s story and cared so much about what happened to him and the family he surrounds himself with that the things that happen in this book really affected me. But that is the sign of a great story and a fantastic narration.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
Brandon Witt is many things. Above all, he is living the dream. After years of writing and reaching for the stars, he is a published author through Dreamspinner Press. Thus far, his novels include The Shattered Door, Then the Stars Fall, and three installments of the Men of Myth series. Also, he has short stories published in various anthologies.
For the first eighteen years of life, Brandon lived in a small Ozark town, El Dorado Springs, Missouri before moving with his family to Colorado. There he got degrees in Youth Ministry and Special Education and worked as a counselor and special education teacher for fifteen years.
The tension of his religious upbringing and being a gay man finds its way onto nearly every page in his novels, as does experiences that over a decade of loving children who have faced much abuse and many struggles. Reflecting what he has discovered to be true in life, Brandon’s writing does not shy away from challenges and conflict but also revels in the joy that can only happen when truly embracing and loving all that life has to offer.