Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Gospel of Winter” as Want to Read:
The Gospel of Winter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Gospel of Winter

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  754 ratings  ·  163 reviews
A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s worl
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Gospel of Winter, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sandi Ward I think it would be appropriate for those high school students who are already reading adult books.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  754 ratings  ·  163 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Gospel of Winter
Larry H
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is a powerful, emotionally moving, and fantastic book.

Sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan has always existed on the fringes of things. A loner more content to snort Adderall and read by himself, as his wealthy parents' marriage disintegrates, he's more comfortable with Elena, their housekeeper, than his parents or friends his own age. He doesn't have any patience for the dishonesty or non-genuineness of the community where he lives.

"Nobody ever said I don't know or I'm afraid, and they acte
Russell J. Sanders
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oh, how I wanted to adore The Gospel of Winter: its complex main character, its setting among the very rich in Connecticut, its flawed parents, its eloquent prose. I began reading with such high expectations, and for at least three quarters of the novel, I was “buying it,” despite seeing the book’s flaws. But that last quarter, when I wanted the story to propel to the end, I got bogged down in the author’s verbosity. Lovely verbosity, but verbosity nevertheless. The protagonist, prep school Soph ...more
Craig Allen
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very powerful story about a young man betrayed by his priest and how it changes his outlook on everything he knew to be true. Aidan, the central character is from a wealthy family with an absent father and a dramatic mother. He has always found comfort in his church, but soon begins to realize that the affection shown by Father Greg towards him is not only very wrong, unlawful, and awful, but also directed at other boys in the church. Aidan's acceptance of this truth and his dealings with the ...more
Nov 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
This book had such a rough start that I will openly admit to not finishing. The characters are extreme stereotypes. The situations they encounter and their dialogue have a contrived feel versus a realistic one.
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
" The Gospel of Winter" which I won from Goodreads Giveaways is a compelling and emotionally-charged novel that deals with a sensitive and complex subject with stark honesty and realism. As the story opens sixteen year old Aidan Donovan, a boy from an affluent family fractured by betrayal and separation is struggling to make sense of the abuse he suffered at the hands of a local priest; someone he expected guidance, security and assurance from. Haunted by the shadow of evil, lies and secrecy tha ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
{originally posted on my blog: Ciao Bella}

+ Gripping, relevant story on a topic not often seen in YA The movie Spotlight recently snagged the Best Picture award at this year’s Oscars ceremony. The title was well-deserved, as the acting was phenomenal, the directing superb, and the story both true and engrossing. When I picked up The Gospel of Winter, I hadn’t realized that it focused on the same event, the Catholic church sexual abuse scandal first reported in Boston, but a few chapters i
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Aiden is living in the midst of what some would describe as their worst nightmare. With his already unstable home life crumbling more and more every day, Aiden begins to self-medicate. However, the alcohol and drugs can't fill the hole inside his heart, so Aiden begins talking to Father Greg about the demons that haunt him.

But when Father Greg's true motives for befriending A
I picked up this book because the cover was beautiful and the title intrigued me. Sadly, those were the only good things about this book. It was obvious within the first three pages that this was the author's first novel, and that was largely because the book just jumped between major plot points without any of the rise and fall you might expect and, quite frankly, hope to find in any well-written book. In light of the heavy, morose subject matter, I feel this was exceptionally poor planning on ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This is a powerfully written book. I applaud the author for telling this story. It was hard to read at times because it was pretty raw, so I can imagine that writing it must have been tough. It was very well-written, and while the characters were flawed, they were not unlikeable, just real. I think he did a great job at portraying teenagers and I was brought back to my younger years when my conflicting desires to be normal and to stand out, or be myself, were constantly at war.

My favourite
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well, this is one of the toughest books I've read since my term finished on Amelia Bloomer Project. That reading exposed me to so many powerful stories of women and girls overcoming horrible abuse to find the empowerment of their voices-- and this book deserves equal attention. The Catholic priest sex scandal was/is gut wrenching in it's long-spread, long-term effects, and the author here very bravely puts out a story filled with tough images, tough characters, and thankfully enough resolution i ...more
Sarah Krajewski
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quiet, loner, Aidan Donovan may come from money, but he is struggling to stay sane. His father recently left for good, and his mother has more important things to worry about than to pay any attention to him. So Aidan turns to Father Greg, the only person that truly listens to him. At least, that's what he thinks. At Christmas he meets up with Josie, Sophie, and Mark, who are three other teens that go to his private school. It's their adventures that lead him to start thinking about what's reall ...more
Mari Anne
Feb 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mg-ya
Way more adult than YA, this book was depressing and didn't really redeem itself even at the end. I found everything about it to be hard to read and stomach. Not one I would recommend. ...more
Karyn Silverman
Very powerful but god did I dislike this.
Katharine Holden
Jul 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Not believable. Main character is supposed to be a teenager, but he sounds like he's a 45 year old professor. All of the characters are one note. Plot development is limited and contrived. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A tough, powerful, moving story about betrayal and healing. Overwritten at times but quite an impressive debut nonetheless.
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book, set from Christmas 2001, to early 2002, and I'm pretty sure that whole Catholic scandal that happened in the books, happened then in real life, and yeah, just a really good book! ...more
Reviews May Vary
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
A difficult and powerful read. It took me a bit to get into it, finding the main character as generally unrelatable and unlikable. But then, like in real life, you get to know the story.
Hannah Tiffany
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hannah Tiffany
February 3, 2019
Goodreads Review of "The Gospel of Winter"

"The Gospel of Winter" stuns readers with an intense story told from the perspective of sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan. After Aidan’s father leaves, he becomes involved in his church and leans on Father Greg during this time of crisis. As time goes on Aidan starts to realize that what is between him and Father Greg is not what the church would call holy. This pushes Aidan into a crisis, causing him to have to rediscover
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Today’s post is on The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely. It is 296 pages long and is published by Margaret K. McElderry Books. The cover is grey with a shadow of a young man behind the title which is red. The intended reader is someone who is interesting in issues books, books about dealing with sexual abuse, or are interesting the Catholic priest scandal from the eyes of a victim. There is mild foul language, drug use, talk of sex and sexual abuse, and no violence in this novel. The story is t ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was told from the spinning mind of a confused boy trying to figure things out. It felt similar to the stream of conscious that I remember from Catcher in the Rye (which I read a very long time ago). It was a tough read for me both because of the topic and because of the style. The poor main character has been abused in many ways that all were portrayed very believably. Only he seems like a fully fleshed out character, but that could have been intentional - as it's told from the perspec ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ouch. I mean, whoa. And damn. This was a tough tough read for me, but so so very worth it to make it through. Someone I adore as much as one person can adore another was abused by a priest as a teen and it has profoundly affected his life. I can only dream of what joy he might take from life if he had ever told his truth to anyone but me and his best friend. Might he be more open, physically healthier, less focused on unhealthy coping mechanisms and a brutal sense of humor to get him through lif ...more
Sandi Ward
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very powerful and gripping story of one young man coming to terms with his abuse at the hands of a charming, younger priest at his local Catholic church. It becomes easy to see how a teen could be victimized, as so many were/are.

The book does a fantastic job of getting in the head of Aidan, a precocious teen who just wants it all to go away, but finds he can't forget what was done in the name of "love" and worries that it has broken him somehow forever. The writing was fluid and pulle
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realistic, ya
Aidan's loneliness is overwhelming. The contrast between his sad comfort in drugs to boyish nervousness with girls elicits a heartfelt response immediately for his innocence. To the reader, it seems so painfully clear that he ought to scream to the world; yet, as the reader is exposed to the secondhand abuse of another young boy, it becomes obvious that what is so easy for a third party is so impossible for a boy caught up in it all. It's not just fiction--today, priests are reputed for this typ ...more
Jennifer Heffron
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not an easy book to read, but I'm glad I did. I discovered this author through our public library's "One Book One Community" offering last year. Kiely co-authored the very powerful book, "All American Boys." As part of this program there is always a chance to hear the author speak. It was an exceptional experience and an opportunity to discuss the topic of racism and police brutality.

If you want to know how our youth think, and the issues they are grappling with today, read one of Brendan Kiely
Ashley Love
Mar 21, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
G. Cribbs
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rarely does a book come along and creep into your bones and settle there with a chill you can't seem to shake, and you realize you're numb, and you've no idea how you got that way. Brendan Kiely has deftly articulated an unflinching, honest portrayal of what it is to be seduced and abused by a priest who uses the tenants of the Catholic church and the promise of truth and love and the pursuit of "good work" to trap a boy as he becomes a man in a world that lies and dupes him into thinking he can ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book contained a tough topic of abuse by a trusted friend of the family Father Greg, a priest. Aidan feels that he's the only adult that will listen to him and actually cares about him. It makes you see how this kind of love may be mistaken as real love when you have a desperate teen. Very well written. ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult, 2017

This was interesting enough to keep reading but super weird. I didn't find the characters to be very believable and a lot of the odd plot left me scratching my head. I'm going to have nightmares about Father Greg.
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I just really couldn't get into this novel. I was tremendously, regrettably bored. The winding, muddled storyline did not grasp my attention, and I was alarmed how drug abuse was never really addressed. I hated the characters, so empathy was hard to grasp for anyone other than Aidan.

Meryl Cox
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Brendan Kiely for sharing Aidan's. This was such a tough novel to get through, emotionally. I hope that any teenager who is triggered by their own story finds peace and a reason to speak out. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2020 In Literature: Gospel of Winter 2 11 Apr 16, 2015 04:50AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Friend Who Lied
  • A Nova Índia
  • Felicidade
  • American Dervish
  • Belzhar
  • The Proposal (The Survivors' Club, #1)
  • I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir
  • Snowflakes
  • A Terceira Índia
  • Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
  • Grown
  • Before the Ever After
  • The Steady Running of the Hour
  • Above All Things
  • It's Not All Downhill from Here
  • Cud, miód, Malina. Kronika rodziny Koźlaków
  • All This Time
  • Buried
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing has appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

Articles featuring this book

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author of Speak, a novel about a young survivor of sexual assault. Her recent memoir,...
57 likes · 21 comments
“The problem is that you don't always get to write your own story. You get written into some stories, and if ask why, there isn't an answer. You don't have any control, because the forces at work are too large to confront, and sometimes too large even to understand.” 3 likes
“When you drink alone over a long period of time, you’re not deluding yourself into thinking you’re clearheaded and bright. You’re falling apart, you know it, and you just want to slip away, numb as a snowman, melting until you’re gone.” 1 likes
More quotes…