Evan Claver gives Ellis Barlowe his last chance at redemption, seeking him out as his mentor, or ‘novice master’: As a naïve college freshman boarding at the history professor’s house, he unravels Barlowe’s secret past as a saint, decades spent as a devout monk ministering to the sick and dying at a monastery hospice before renouncing his faith and rejoining the world. Yet Barlowe runs his household like the abbey he left behind, treating his boarder-student like one of his lowly novices, endeavoring to teach him about the realities of life, a role-play complicated by their mutual passion for the same woman. As their roles blur and finally dissolve, the men form a crucial bond which ultimately changes the course of both their lives.
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NOVICE MASTER has to be one of the more interesting coming of age stories that I have had the pleasure of reading. It shows both a young man accepting that his idol can be only human while the idol learns to become more human.
Evan discovered Brother Theo while he was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor and he promised God that if he made it through that he would join a monastery and dedicate his life to God. When Evan leaves home and goes to Brother Theo's monastery however he discovers that it has been changed into a retreat. He also discovers that Brother Theo has left the order. Evan manages to track the ex Brother Theo down and he is now a college professor named Ellis Barlowe. He decides to attend that college and starts his journey towards adulthood.
I really enjoyed the story but there were some instances that really had me scratching my head. Evan has graduated from a public high school yet he is extremely naive about sex. To the point that it is almost unbelievable. What red blooded teenage hasn't heard about oral sex? Other then this curiosity, I found NOVICE MASTER to be well written and I would recommend it to any of my readers who enjoy coming of age stories.
*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed within are my own.