Special Feature: Grace Ungiven: And the Innocents Left to Yearn by Jeff R. Kelland
The scandals wracking the Catholic Church are a long time coming. The survivors now speaking out endured decades of trauma, uncertainty, shame, and the painstaking process of recovery. Many of them only testified later in their lives. Which meant that their abusers remained free from accountability for all those years. Things are changing, and author Jeff Kelland’s novel reflects how the tide is turning. In “Grace Ungiven (and the innocents left to yearn)” we see one man's journey to bring an end to the injustice and make the high and mighty finally answer for their crimes.
Mickey Kavanaugh is a man apart, estranged from most and living in exile due to the trauma he experienced as a teen, as an altar boy abused by someone he trusted. Still deeply troubled, he reappears bringing evidence that could bring his abuser to justice. He reaches out to old friends who can help make the case stick. But it's not smooth sailing, as pressure mounts and dormant personal issues begin reemerging for everyone. This process of exposing the truth and holding abusers accountable will test them, bringing out painful memories and emotions as they try to handle the church's influence on their own lives. After all, the organization in question is so influential, having played a crucial role in their society, in their upbringing, held in such high regard only for those of its ranks to betray people like Mickey so badly.
Kelland's narrative is a moving examination of the toll abuse takes on people, the consequences of the crime as well as the long-term methodical coverups done at the behest of the powerful and influential. We see how this harms children, continues to hurt them as they grow up, and how those who did that to them are sheltered by an authority that holds sway over the everyday lives of countless followers.
“Grace Ungiven’s” implacable buildup will take readers to a profound and shocking climax. Kelland does not pull any punches. His narrative shows facets ranging from the humblest adherents of the faith to the Church's leaders, and how the organization has influenced society and innumerable lives through the centuries. He shows us how this enormous and complex structure, of doctrine, belief, and authority, by its very construction and opacity, made the child sexual abuse epidemic possible, maybe even inevitable. That is the danger of such limitless power and impunity, and Kelland contrasts its vast and massive scope with the individual lives of those harmed by it, and the process they undertake to heal.
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Jeff Kelland is a fifty-eight-year-old native of St. Johns, Newfoundland, where he lives, loves and creates alongside his wife Christina. A lifelong student of the human condition, with an insatiable interest in how and why things are as they are, he possesses a genuine concern for the welfare of people and society as a whole. Jeff has a fierce passion for the written word, and though Grace Ungiven is his first novel of fiction, he is a talented, experienced writer of innumerable essays, magazine articles, newspaper editorials, poetry and prose, appearing in a variety of publications over the years. He holds a first-class honours BA in philosophy, an MSc in Community Health from the School of Medicine at Memorial University, and has published a ground-breaking thesis. He is also an accomplished public speaker for various provincial causes and Canadian conferences, and a veteran singer-songwriter and entertainer for over thirty years.