Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Virtual Book Tour and Review: The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay

First line: The Cancun sun sparkled on the surface of the Caribbean Sea while a cool breeze wafted off the water and played peek-a-boo with Maggie Davidson's dark hair.

From the back cover: In The Perfect Family, seventeen-year old Jamie Davidson doesn’t think being gay should be such a big deal…until he comes out to his parents and friends. Even as Jamie celebrates no longer needing to hide his true self and looks forward to the excitement of openly dating another boy, the entire Davidson family is thrown into turmoil.

Jamie’s father Mike can’t reconcile his religious beliefs with his son’s sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage.  And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused.

What happens in their small town community, in the high school, in two churches–one supportive and one not—as well as among friends and relatives is vividly portrayed. Finally, every member of their “perfect family” must search their hearts and souls to reconnect with each other in this honest, heartwarming, and hopeful look at the redemptive power of love and family.

My thoughts: Every once in a while, you read a book that you completely connect with. This was that book for me. The Perfect Family is a tale of a family coming to terms with their son's sexuality and their struggles to overcome the stigma of homosexuality in everyday life. Kathryn Shay tackles this issue with compassion and sensitivity. How do a strict Catholic father, a compassionate, protective mother and an all-American brother deal with this coming out? And what about Jamie - how does he handle publicly coming out to his family and the community he lives in? As someone who has gone through a similar situation with my family, I can tell you that many of the emotions that these characters experience are real...anger, humiliation, sadness, resentment, protectiveness and love, to name a few. Each character in the story is portrayed as human - they all have their own beliefs and viewpoints that helps and hinders them in coming to terms with this and they are all flawed. I loved this book and think it should be on everyone's reading list, whether you have experienced this situation or not.  A touching, compelling read that deals with a difficult issue while leaving us with an important lesson: the power of forgiveness and understanding.

About the author: Kathryn Shay is a lifelong writer. At fifteen, she penned her first ‘romance,’ a short story about a female newspaper reporter in New York City and her fight to make a name for herself in a world of male journalists – and with one hardheaded editor in particular. Looking back, Kathryn says she should have known then that writing was in her future. But as so often happens, fate sent her detouring down another path.

Fully intending to pursue her dream of big city lights and success in the literary world, Kathryn took every creative writing class available at the small private women’s college she attended in upstate New York. Instead, other dreams took precedence. She met and subsequently married a wonderful guy who’d attended a neighboring school, then completed her practice teaching, a requirement for the education degree she never intended to use. But says Kathryn, “I fell in love with teaching the first day I was up in front of a class, and knew I was meant to do that.”

Kathryn went on to build a successful career in the New York state school system, thoroughly enjoying her work with adolescents. But by the early 1990s, she’d again made room in her life for writing. It was then that she submitted her first manuscript to publishers and agents. Despite enduring two years of rejections, she persevered. And on a snowy December afternoon in 1994, Kathryn Shay sold her first book to Harlequin Superromance.

Since that first sale, Kathryn has written twenty-five books for Harlequin, nine mainstream contemporary romances for the Berkley Publishing Group, and two online novellas, which Berkley then published in traditional print format. Her first mainstream fiction book will be out from Bold Strokes Books in September, 2010

Kathryn has become known for her powerful characterizations – readers say they feel they know the people in her books – and her heart-wrenching, emotional writing (her favorite comments are that fans cried while reading her books or stayed up late to finish them). In testament to her skill, the author has won five RT BookClub Magazine Reviewers Choice Awards, three Holt Medallions, two Desert Quill Awards, the Golden Leaf Award, and several online accolades.

Even in light of her writing success, that initial love of teaching never wavered for Kathryn. She finished out her teaching career in 2004, retiring from the same school where her career began. These days, she lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children. “My life is very full,” she reports, “but very happy. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue and achieve my dreams.”

For more information about Kathryn, you can visit her website.

I received a complimentary copy of The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour.


  1. Kristen,
    Thanks so much for the lovely review. It was my hope that people who had this experience in their family and those who don't, too, would benefit from it. As you can tell, it's the book of my heart.
    Kathy Shay

  2. I completely agree with your review. I read it and thought it was heartfelt, touching, and very real.



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