Friday 3 November 2017

Keeping the Faith by A.M. Leibowitz

 Title: Keeping the Faith (Faithfully Yours #3)

Author: A.M. Leibowitz

Publisher: Supposed Crimes

Publication Date: November 1, 2017

Length: 238 pages (~84k words)

Genre: Literary fiction/romance

Categories/Tags: Bisexual, transgender, grief & loss, spirituality, Christianity

ISBN: 1944591273 (ISBN13: 9781944591274)



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It’s been three years since Micah’s spouse, Cat, passed away at the age of thirty-six. In the process of cleaning his house, Micah discovers a series of letters Cat hid before he died, in which he made one request: that Micah empty his life of Cat as a way of moving on. Micah has been able to work through his sorrow, but he’s unable to fulfill Cat’s last wish. He can’t see a way past his loneliness despite all the caring people around him.

Enter two new friendships. Jude, Micah’s vivacious new coworker, brings joy back into his life. But she has a big secret about her family, and the truth will rock Micah’s understanding of who she is. Chris, the new minister at Cat’s former church, intrigues Micah. Unlike Jude, Chris is an open book, from his musings on theology to his work as a trans advocate and activist. His gentle manner and deep faith become safe space for Micah to open up about his loss.

Through them, Micah becomes involved with the town’s new community center, where he offers a creative writing class. Using Cat’s detailed letters, he fictionalizes their love story to share with his students. In doing so, he at last begins to sort through his complicated grief. Micah learns he doesn’t have to erase his life with Cat in order to make new memories. He may even be falling for Chris, despite their vastly different spiritual views. With a little help from family and friends, Micah will need to open his heart to love completely again.

Content warning:

This book is about loss and grief, particularly the death of a long-term partner. There are scenes of character death, funerals, and reactions to loss. There are also numerous references to spiritual trauma, lgbtqia antagonism, abusive family members, and previous suicide attempts. There are no graphic or detailed scenes of the content, however they are mentioned throughout. It may bring up strong feelings in readers. It is not meant to describe every person’s experience nor give advice.

Exclusive Excerpt:

The cat showed up the day before school started.

It was an orange tabby, strikingly handsome and as cool as you please when he perched on the stoop staring up at the open door with his unblinking green eyes. Micah had only gone to retrieve the mail, but there was the beast. It opened its mouth and offered a meow in greeting.

Amused, Micah replied, “Hello to you too.”

He reached down to see if the cat had a collar and was rewarded with a whap of the cat’s paw. Fortunately, the thing kept its claws retracted. Micah straightened up and crossed his arms, glowering down at the cat.

“No need to be so touchy. Not going to let me see who you belong to, then? Fine. Maybe if I feed you. Wait here.”

He retreated inside the house and went to the kitchen. Inside, he pulled out a bowl and rooted through the fridge to see if there was anything cat-friendly. The most he found there was last night’s leftover casserole, which didn’t seem appealing for his guest. He finally located a can of tuna in the pantry and dumped the whole thing into the bowl. As he turned around to cart it back to the stoop, he nearly dropped it when the cat leaped up on the counter next to him, purring.

“Jesus, you scared me,” Micah muttered at him. “Thought I closed the door. Please, feel free to make yourself at home.” He nudged the cat, who jumped off the counter and wound himself around Micah’s leg.

Micah set the bowl down, and the cat began eating. At last Micah could see if the thing had a collar and tag. Unfortunately, he had neither. Micah scratched him a little behind his ears. Poor thing looked like he hadn’t had a decent meal in a while—he was on the scrawny side. Friendly, though, so he must have come from a family at some point. Micah would need to ask around to see if anyone had lost their pet.

When the cat finished eating, he rubbed up against Micah’s shin, stretching and purring. Micah chuckled softly. Mr. Whiskers had certainly made it clear he intended to stay a while. No harm in that; he would be well cared-for until Micah located his real owner.

He started for the living room, and the cat followed, hopping into Micah’s lap the moment he settled down in his chair to flip on the television. Micah put his feet up, and the cat curled against his stomach, rumbling away. As Micah stroked his fur, he thought about how nice it was to have a warm body in the house again. He loved living next door to his sister-in-law, and her kids kept him busy. But it wasn’t the same as having another soul around all the time.

“Wish I knew your name,” Micah said to the cat. “I can’t just call you Cat.” He swallowed the lump in his throat and fought the tears pricking his eyes. Every little thing, it seemed, brought up his long-gone spouse these days.

The cat placed his paw on Micah’s cheek where the tear tracked its way down. He head-butted Micah, still purring. Sorrow turned to laughter as the cat’s whiskers tickled Micah’s chin before the animal settled back down with his tail curled around him. Keeping one hand on the cat’s back, Micah flipped channels to find something—anything—which would take his mind off his grief even for a little while. Before he knew it, both he and the cat were fast asleep.

Author Bio:

A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.

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