Reviews for In Jupiter's Shadow

"One of the literary pleasures of this year...In Jupiter's Shadow is one of those books the reader wishes would never end." read full review

Grady Harp, reviewer, Poets and Artist (O&S)

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"Greg Gerard delights and entertains as he energetically and systematically tackles the mysteries of God, family, and later, sexuality." read full review

Sonja Livingston, author of Ghostbread

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"Generous, bighearted, and filled with homespun wisdom, In Jupiter's Shadow is a mystery story of a different stripe!" read full review

Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals

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"At times heart-wrenching and at others heartwarming, In Jupiter's Shadow is ultimately a funny, poignant, and uplifting tale that does not disappoint." read full review

Georgia Beers, reviewer, The Empty Closet

"As a mother of boys, it is a challenge to know what to expect as they grow and mature. My husband tends to shy away from questions about male teenage sexuality. I am always on the lookout for quality parenting books to fill in the gaps. IN JUPITER'S SHADOW definitely helped me to get a broad and honest take - from the perspective of an adolescent boy - on what might be in store for my own boys, and how I can help them as a mom. read full review

"Mother of Boys", Amazon reviewer

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"I finish Chapter One interested to see what happens next. Always a good sign. Best of luck completing it and finding a publisher."

—Andrew Tobias, author of The Best Little Boy in the World

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"What I liked about In Jupiter’s Shadow is its lack of pretension. It’s a loving look at one gay man’s boyhood – certainly not mine and probably not yours, but a nicely drawn, entertaining portrait of warmth, family and home. Be it ever so humble." read full review

Jerry Wheeler, reviewer, Out in Print

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"Gerard's gift as an author is his unpretentious ability to explore deep and eternal struggles through the lens of youthful optimism." read full review

Greg DiStefano, author of Breakdown:
Diamonds, Death and Second Chances

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"As a writer and teacher of memoir, I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the genre. I'm happy to say that Greg Gerard's "In Jupiter's Shadow" is among the best I've read." read full review

Cami Sorbello, journalist, The Courier Journal

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"It would be a serious mistake to regard this as a niche book...this is the best memoir I have encountered in years." read full review

Robert W. Gregg, author, The Crooked Lake Mystery Series

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"I holed up in the bathroom at midnight to finish reading so I wouldn't keep my husband awake."

Elizabeth Boice, daughter of a gay father

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FULL REVIEWS

FULL REVIEW BY "MOTHER OF BOYS":

"I finished reading IN JUPITER'S SHADOW last night. My final thought as I closed it was: "What a beautiful book."

There was one line on the last page that caught my attention. "I was defining my future character." As the mother of two pre-adolescent boys, that will be a message I pass on to them. There are so many outside influences in the world today and so few individuals who actually claim responsibility for their actions. In the end, all we really have is our integrity. People may remember funny stories about us when we are dead and gone, but what will come up most will be our character and integrity: that's what people will remember!

Also, as the mother of boys, it is a challenge to know what to expect as they grow and mature. My husband tends to shy away from questions about male teenage sexuality. I am always on the lookout for quality parenting books to fill in the gaps. IN JUPITER'S SHADOW definitely helped me to get a broad and honest take - from the perspective of an adolescent boy - on what might be in store for my own boys, and how I can help them as a mom.

It took me a little while to get used to the writing style, which I believe is sometimes described as `spare.' The more I read, I discovered I liked it. It must have just been a new experience for me. I would recommend it to anyone with one caveat. It must be read with an open mind. People who have predetermined ideas about what is right and what is wrong and cannot see the shades in between will have difficulty with this book, I think. However, I believe it can truly help others as well. The fact that the author was brought up in a religious family and continues to have a relationship with God will bring an unexpected twist to believers of certain faiths/denominations.

There were parts in the book that deeply disturbed me. I ran the gamut of emotions, from severe empathy to laughing out loud. I'm glad I didn't let the disturbing parts keep me from finishing. I am a better person and a better mom for having read it. In summary, I just want to repeat, "What a beautiful book."

Mother of Boys, Amazon Reviewer

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FULL REVIEW BY SONJA LIVINSTON:

"Greg Gerard delights and entertains as he energetically and systematically tackles the mysteries of God, family, and later, sexuality. Making use of all the clues (in pop culture, relationships, and religion), Greg takes readers along on a colorful quest to solve the ultimate mystery; to discover a sense of self."

Sonja Livingston, author of Ghostbread, a memoir

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FULL REVIEW BY ALISON SMITH:

"On a quest for the authentic self, a precocious, gimlet-eyed young Gerard sets off to discover his true identity. Along the way he finds clues in the most unlikely of places. Generous, bighearted, and filled with homespun wisdom, In Jupiter's Shadow is a mystery story of a different stripe!"

Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals

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FULL REVIEW BY GEORGIA BEERS:

"Anybody who grew up in the ‘80s will be able to relate to Gregory Gerard’s In Jupiter’s Shadow simply because of the pop culture references. Music, movies, television — they’re all there. A little bit of Sheena Easton here, a little bit of the Hardy Boys there, some Jupiter Jones, and a taste of The Flintstones tossed into the mix. They permeate the memoir (in a good way), setting the mood for each chapter, and creative a most colorful of backdrops as the story unfolds.

But there’s much more to Gerard’s memoir than pop culture. Starting in 1973, we journey with the Rochester author through his lonesome childhood, his confusing teenage years, and into young adulthood. The path is strewn with obstacles — religion, family, sexuality, and food to name a few — some of which are mere bumps in the road and others which seem to be insurmountable walls for our young hero, an immensely likable boy with a rich fantasy life and an understandable addiction to junk food.

Gerard’s family is populated by unique and memorable characters that run the gamut from lovable (brother Paul) to almost frightening (father Darwin). His mother is a devout Christian woman who adores her youngest son, but doesn’t really see him. His father is a big bear of a man with a drinking problem and a seemingly split personality, neither side of which Gerard can seem to get to know, no matter how hard he tries. Gerard’s other siblings, teachers, and friends round out the cast as he tries his best to find his way through adolescence and reconcile his profound faith in God with his growing attraction to other men.

Gerard’s writing is casual, comfortable, and easy to read. It’s as if he’s an old friend telling the story over hot coffee and warm baked goods. At times heart-wrenching and at others heartwarming, In Jupiter’s Shadow is ultimately a funny, poignant, and uplifting tale that does not disappoint. With 'In Jupiter's Shadow,' Gregory Gerard shares his childhood and in doing so, tells a story that vacillates between heartwarming and heartwrenching. His pop culture references are funny, poignant, and will resonate with anybody who grew up in the 70s and/or 80s. A humorous, touching, uplifting read."

Georgia Beers, reviewer, The Empty Closet

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FULL REVIEW BY GREG DISTEFANO:

"In this disarmingly honest, poignant portrait of innocence slowly lost, Greg Gerard takes us through the joys and sorrows of self-discovery, and the importance of emerging from the shadows of other people's expectations. As a gay "recovering Catholic," I could relate to the harrowing teenage road paved with angst, fear, guilt, shame and denial on the journey toward self-awareness and ultimately self-acceptance. Gerard's gift as an author is his unpretentious ability to explore deep and eternal struggles through the lens of youthful optimism and everyday events, demonstrating the swirling torrents of confusion and emotion that define all of us in the search for our selves."

Greg DiStefano, author of Breakdown:
Diamonds, Death and Second Chances

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FULL REVIEW BY GRADY HARP:
I couldn’t solve the mystery of my sexuality.’

One of the literary pleasures of this year is the discovery of a gifted new writer by the name of Gregory Gerard.

Though IN JUPITER’S SHADOW is his first venture into the world of the novel, Gerard gives notice of a writer of great skill and a mind capable of understanding and relating the manner of thinking and coping with the world that faces the developing young people of today. This is a story rich in content, in conveying the parameters of life in a family surrounded by the tradition of the Roman Catholic view of life yet sharing the many methods of hiding inconsistencies from the Confessional on the part of both parents and children, of the influence of the times between the years 1979 and 1984 on the maturing of teenagers, and of the struggle and turmoil of coping with sexuality that faces so many of the youngsters (and adults) paralyzed by the expectations of society.

Yes, this is a coming of age story but it is so much more. With this book Gregory Gerard enters the arena of the best of authors who deal with the struggles of boys becoming men in Middle America (and throughout the country).

The main character, Greg, is a young lad who has always preferred living in the world of make believe, patterning his world view after the character detective Jupiter, a chubby but oh so wise and clever fictional boy who leads the pack in a series of books called ‘The Three Investigators.’ Gerard opens his book with some family background in 1973 where we meet his family:

--Drinking Dar, the alcoholic father,
--The Booker, his coping organized mother,
--his five older siblings including a delicate portrayal of a brain injured brother Paul,
--Greg’s sobriquet as ‘The Caboose’ (suggesting his place in line of a family that could have easily done without him),
--his funky Gram who has terms for everything,
--and the various priests whose influence is felt at every turn.

From this starting point Gerard allows us to grow along with and accompany Greg through his adventures as a detective, as a boy who longs to be ‘normal’ but who prefers boys as his night dream stimulators for his forbidden acts of release.

Bouncing back and forth between the years 1979 and 1984 (a very clever and well devised method of introducing and explaining a child’s progress) Gerard comfortably takes us through Greg’s steps towards finding his identity: as Greg chronicles his life he writes in his journals:

Gram’s death. Longing to be a priest. The Bathtub. Adam. Building Headquarters. Saint Mike’s graduation. Going to McQuaid. Robberies at Gerard’s Grocery. Prayers for normalcy. Backrubs with Bob. Roy’s death.

Each of these notations represents featured incidents in the boy’s progress to find himself and become the man he is despite the stumbles in the way of his journey. This is a story of the rigors of accepting self, especially when that self happens to be at odds with society. Gerard has the sensitivity to allow the quasi-dysfunctional family to still bear the fond memories even the worst of families retain in each of our minds. He also is kind to the influences of the variety of priests from the Catholic Church who influence the various steps in Greg’s development. And he allows us to witness and experience the delicacy and trauma of falling in love, even when falling in love imports the same sex variety.

IN JUPITER’S SHADOW is one of those books the reader wishes would never end, so welcome and treasureable is the journey with Greg – a young man we all grow to love and admire. Filled to the brim with brilliant writing, with page after page of hilarious storyline, and equally suffused with sensitivity for issues of living and dying we all learn to face, IN JUPITER'S SHADOW is a little dream of a book. Very Highly Recommended for all readers.

Grady Harp, reviewer, Poets and Artists (O&S)

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FULL REVIEW BY ROBERT W. GREGG:
'A fascinating story, beautifully told!'

In Jupiter's Shadow is a brilliant recreation of both childhood and coming of age. More importantly, it invites the reader to share the author's experience as a devout Catholic who discovers that he is gay. But it would be a serious mistake to regard this as a niche book. It should appeal to everyone who has experienced growing pains, whatever their nature.

The author has a wonderful way with words. He treats the people who inhabit his book - family, friends, members of the clergy - with understanding and affection. Places come alive. The barn where young Greg has his 'headquarters,' the family grocery store, the schools he attends - he makes you feel that you have been there with him. If you aren't a fan of Sheena Easton, you will be after reading this book.

I am neither Catholic nor gay, but I found myself walking in Greg's shoes and rooting for the happy ending. This is the best memoir I have encountered in years.

Robert W. Gregg, author, The Crooked Lake Mystery Series

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FULL REVIEW BY CAMY SORBELLO

"As a writer and teacher of memoir, I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the genre. I'm happy to say that Greg Gerard's In Jupiter's Shadow is among the best I've read.

He moves us back and forth in time as he struggles to find his identity as the youngest child in a small-town, Catholic family. Friends and family, teachers and priests, all play a part in this journey of self-discovery. Gerard's attention to detail and dialogue, and keen memory of the people and places in his life grab the reader right from the start. And his sense of humor and optimism lifts the story above the common "woe is me" memoir that can be so tiresome.

Gerard gives us people who are real, not two dimensional, "cardboard" characters, and we come to know them all--the challenging, and the nurturing--through this carefully crafted book. I never felt he was harsh or judgmental of himself or others as he worked to solve the mysteries within.

In Jupiter's Shadow is a memoir that has earned a place on the shelf alongside Mary Karr's "The Liar's Club" and Rick Bragg's "Ava's Man." Greg Gerard has earned a place among them, and is definitely a writer to watch! I look forward to his next book!

Cami Sorbello, journalist, The Courier Journal

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FULL REVIEW BY JERRY WHEELER

French diplomat Jean Giraudoux once said,“The key to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” But Gregory Gerard has nothing to fake in the memoir of his boyhood, In Jupiter’s Shadow. His sincerity is apparent on every page, handily overwhelming the book’s few shortcomings.


The Jupiter of the title is Jupiter Jones, the boy detective featured in the Three Investigators series of books by Robert Arthur. Gerard tries to emulate Jupiter whenever he has a problem, sussing out clues and doing research like any good gumshoe.However, he doesn’t solve the mystery of his gayness until the last few pages –after multiple operations for his hydrocephalitic brother Paul, escaping Catholic guilt and enduring the death of his best friend Roy in a car accident.

Despite these traumas, Gerard has a fairly typical adolescence with his upper-middle class family, making the word for this book “sweet.” Yes, it’s Walton’s-style family sweet – but Gerard’s keen eye for observation and talent for maintaining tension ensures that its sweetness never cloys or becomes overly sentimental.

Is it a perfect book? No. I could have used more of a sense of place and time to root the characters, though he tries to accomplish that through his forced crush on Sheena Easton and love of Stephen King bestsellers (remember when King wrote instead of just typed?). In the same vein, his brothers and sisters weren’t drawn too distinctly, with the exception of Paul, who was a standout character.

However, the portraits of his parents more than make up for the lack, especially that of his father Darwin, a plain-spoken blue-collar kinda guy who becomes overly polite and florid when drunk (dubbed the “Drinking Dar” by Gerard). There is love, respect and drama in this relationship, much of it brilliantly implied rather than baldly stated. The scene where he tells his father he loves him, on advice from kindly Father O’Malley, is beautiful and understated.

What I liked about In Jupiter’s Shadow is its lack of pretension. It’s a loving look at one gay man’s boyhood – certainly not mine and probably not yours, but a nicely drawn, entertaining portrait of warmth, family and home.

Be it ever so humble.

Jerry Wheeler, reviewer, Out in Print

 

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