A Catholic priest struggles with memories of an illicit romance in 1970s New York in this powerfully intimate novel of faith and doubt, guilt and love.
New York in the late 70s: fiscal crisis, rising crime, the great blackout of ’77—the city seemed to be on an irreversible decline that was battering its very soul. And, to put it mildly, sin was everywhere. Against this backdrop we meet Abram Singer, a Catholic priest with an unusual name and a very dark secret. Born to an absentee Jewish father and a devout Irish mother, Abram always felt like an outsider, someone standing between two worlds. Raised Catholic, he found himself drawn to the meaningful structure of the seminary and became a Manhattan parish priest. Guided by a genuine faith in God, Abram’s sincerest wish is to do His work.
But Abram is not without his human failings, primary of which is lust. Despite his vow of chastity, he is irresistibly attracted to women and has a long-standing relationship with a young woman named Lisa, whom he loves passionately. Their romance, Abram feels, bears the hallmarks of all of his gravest weaknesses—doubt, hypocrisy, and an inability to renounce his own sin. These misgivings threaten to overwhelm him when a stranger calls Abram at the parish threatening to expose his liaison, forcing him to decide whether the risks of continuing with Lisa have become simply too great.
Told entirely in Abram’s straightforward, self-aware voice, Unworthy is both a riveting, morally complex narrative about the nature of faith, loyalty, and identity, and a gritty period piece about a man trying to make his way in one of America’s greatest cities. (Photo and Synopsis from Goodreads)
I rate this book a 2.5 out of 5 Stars.
Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for the E-ARC in exchange of this honest review.
Okay, so when I came upon the synopsis of this book on Netgalley, I immediately requested it. Something about it sounded so fascinating to me. I do not enjoy books with a very religious theme to them. But add in a priest who has sworn celibacy, who in fact is anything but celibate. I’m in. However..
I only found this book to be okay. It did have a lot of potential to be exceptional. In the synopsis it talks about the financial crisis and “The Great Blackout of 77” yet none of that was really mentioned. There was A LOT of religious talk and references, psalms, passages, religious music references, and then when those weren’t occurring, it was about sex. I wanted him to renounce, I wanted him to do the right thing for his parish, and for Lisa. I felt like he was a lying, conniving snake, who only cared about himself. The side of him that loved God, and the side of him that loved Lisa. However I don’t believe he truly loved anyone, but himself.
Overall, I was let down by this book. That’s not to say that someone else won’t love this book. After-all this is my own personal opinion, and because I do not enjoy books with religious themes, its more than half the reason I did not entirely enjoy this one. So you may very well like this one, and understand it a bit more.
I also want to add, that while I wasn’t a fan of this book, I could tell the author wrote with passion, his passion for religion, his passion for this story, it showed through in his writing. So even though this wasn’t my favorite book, I can appreciate that.