I am happy to share this book review of The Gate from blogger and Catholic author Anabelle Hazard, who writes at Catholicstand.com and her personal blog, Written by the Finger of God, at Anabellehazard.blogspot.com. Following the book review on Catholic Stand is an interview she conducted with me. You can find the entire article, including interview, here at the Catholic Stand website: http://www.catholicstand.com/book-review-and-interview-with-nancy-carabio-belanger/
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good book in the slightest” C.S. Lewis
Nancy Carabio Belanger’s latest novel “The Gate” passes the Lewis test. It is a Catholic novel about Joshua Lasko, a smart-alecky middle school boy, whose faith disappears at his father’s death. He meets Pie, a nursing home resident, and his life turns around into a whopping surprise.
I’ve long trusted Ms. Belanger’s writing since she penned “Olivia and the Little Way” and its sequel “Olivia’s Gift.“ Both books are eternal favorites of my ten-year daughter since she first read it; curl-tipped edges from over reading, and often quoted back to me. When “The Gate” came out, I was not sure it would resonate with the female readers (including myself) in our house, but I’m glad I was wrong.
“The Gate” was delightful for several reasons. The character of Joshua is as real as a middle school student in America can be; witty and smart as a whip. Pie is endearing, and somewhat stubborn if not grumpy. Their unexpected friendship is something I envy as I wish I had known and gotten to know all my grandparents the same way.
The Gate’s biggest gift is the unabashed Catholicism and truth of Holy Mother, which is stapled in the dialogue and the story, just as much as it is ingrained in any Catholic’s life (or should be). All without being sappy. More power to Ms. Belanger who dares to write for Catholic readers who long to be able to connect with a literary figure and are so unfortunately neglected in a secular publishing world. For those of you who enjoy a good, clean, warm read, pick up “The Gate” and get to know unforgettable characters about a story of two souls.
The only improvement I can suggest to “The Gate” is for a better designed cover. The muted illustration is impeccable, but the title and the author’s name, could be more than a simple black font. Since Ms. Belanger is now synonymous with good, quality Catholic YA fiction, I think her name deserves to be highlighted in bolder billing and can stand on its own as a brand.