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The Gate

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First-Place, Best Catholic Novel— 2014 Catholic Press Association book awards

For smart-aleck Josh, being a Christian in the eighth grade is completely irrelevant, especially with the temptations that middle school can bring. For him, life is all about playing video games, getting money, and causing trouble. He doesn’t need anybody and he makes his own rules. When his teacher assigns a pen-pal project, Josh meets Pie, a spunky senior citizen with a love of his Catholic faith, Saint John Bosco, and the New York Yankees. But much to Josh’s surprise, Pie creates his own project for Josh, and Josh realizes that God has a plan—even for him.

In this inspiring novel that radiates the dignity of the priesthood and the discovery of God’s calling for each of us, Josh is shocked to find himself fighting hard on a spiritual battlefield, but often for the wrong side. As the friendship with his new mentor deepens, Josh learns that God has more in store for him than he could have ever imagined.




"A wonderful novel about faith, the pain of growing up, and trying to choose the Good. The Gate reminds us of God's plan for every person, for our happiness and spiritual growth, and how He reveals it in very different ways. Nancy Carabio Belanger takes us on an exciting journey that shows how He sends special people at various times in our lives to help us find our true, God-predetermined vocation."

—Fr. Brett Brannen
priest of the Diocese of Savannah and author, To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood



"The book itself is a great promoter of vocations because it doesn't fall into what I might call sentimentalism. Rather, it takes a real-life situation and places Christ right into it. It shows how priests are human, and called to conversion, and how God leads them."

—Fr. Chris Pietraszko, priest of the Diocese of London, Ontario

309 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 2013

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About the author

Nancy Carabio Belanger

3 books26 followers
Nancy Carabio Belanger, a graduate of Michigan State University, has loved to write ever since she was a little girl. She used to write fiction stories in math class when she was supposed to be listening to the teacher, a practice she certainly does not recommend to her readers! She has a great love for St. Therese of Lisieux. She says that Therese's Little Way is a reminder to all of us who feel like we can do nothing, that we aren’t old enough, smart enough, etc. We can all make little sacrifices to please God.

Nancy founded Harvey House Publishing in 2008 to create books for children that celebrate the Catholic Faith, modesty, the gift of life, and a wholesome childhood. Nancy is a member of the Catholic Press Association, the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Catholic Writers Guild, and the American Authors Association. She lives in Michigan with her family, where she is working on more novels for children.


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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Ray.
1 review3 followers
January 31, 2014
I found "The Gate" by Nancy Carabio Belanger to exhibit an authentic portrayal of what Jesus Christ intended His Church to be: a hospital for sinners, a sure refuge of reconciliation, a beacon of hope, life and love. It will touch the heart of anyone who is seeking to find meaning in life, at any age, amidst all of the noise we all contend with everyday. It challenges the reader to examine themselves in light of the virtues which we were all created to embrace, which give us happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction. Read as how the loving hand of God moves and works quietly in our hearts and lives through others to gain our attention in hopes that we acknowledge His tender mercy and perfect plan for our lives. Certainly a book which all Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, should read.
Profile Image for Laura Pearl.
Author 2 books33 followers
May 19, 2014
It is with distinct pleasure that I highly recommend The Gate, the latest triumphant YA novel by acclaimed Catholic writer Nancy Carabio Belanger (author of Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift). I only wish it had been around when my own five sons were in junior high!

The reader is introduced to Joshua Lasko, a troubled 8th grader and only child who has been a bit lost since the death of his father two years ago. Once a happy, church-going, clean-living kid who did well in school (a former altar boy, for goodness sake!), Josh no longer really cares about anything—that is, besides the latest violent video game that he wants to buy. Finding a way to get the money for this game, of which his mom would never approve, is his obsession; and meanwhile his grades are slipping, he’s losing his faith, and he’s heading for some serious trouble. His mother is now a single parent who has to work long hours, and she and Josh are struggling to stay connected.

When Josh’s class takes a field trip to the senior center, to meet the elderly pen pals they are being assigned as part of a school project, Josh is thrown together with a grumpy old guy named Pietro “Pie” Leone, who is recovering from surgery and itching to get healed up so he can go back to his normal life—whatever that might be. Little does Josh suspect at first, but this will prove to be one of the most meaningful and significant relationships of his life. As time goes on, Josh and Pie develop a unique friendship. Pie teaches his young protégé about baseball, pizza-making, and most importantly, the Catholic Faith—about which he seems to know more than the average Joe. Pie is a mentor who enters Josh’s life at a crucial time, when the boy has begun to lose sight of the difference between right and wrong and is sorely missing a father’s influence. Once Pie enters the picture, Josh starts down a new path and he is forever changed.

If you’re a Red Sox fan (like yours truly), Pie might get on your nerves. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool Yankees fan—but that’s my only complaint about him! Besides that one glaring flaw in his make-up, he is one of the most lovable, memorable characters I have ever come across in fiction—YA or otherwise. He does for young Josh what St. John Bosco did for so many troubled street boys in 19th-century Turin, Italy. (And bonus: Just as the Olivia books subtly teach readers about St. Therese and her “Little Way,” through this book the reader will learn more about wonderful Don Bosco, to whom Pie Leone is very devoted.)

The Gate is awesome--and as overused as that term is these days, it applies here. And although it's perfect for young male readers, it's certainly not just for kids. It'll knock your socks off, trust me. The characters are fully-developed and unforgettable, and the plot draws the reader in from page one. This novel is a celebration of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, and love; it is a celebration of the Christian family; it is a celebration of the priestly vocation; and ultimately, it is a celebration of all that is good and true about the Holy Catholic Church.
Profile Image for Jaime K.
Author 1 book43 followers
December 24, 2013
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and I am so glad that I did.

Josh is an eighth grader who lost his dad almost two years prior to the story. When his father died, he and his mother stopped going to church, she go a new job which kept her working longer, and their money supply decreased. Josh becomes surly and acts out - his grades slip, he lies and steals, he begins to turn people against him.

At the start of the school year, Josh gets sick and comes back to school to learn he has a new project - pen pals with a senior citizen! And he has the last pick with a man named Pie. He lies in his first letter to Pie and the man eats it up, at first. He's a die-hard Yankees fan who has met Joe DiMaggio twice, has been battling an illness since he was 11, and who learned from his father how to make pizza and make peace with God. Sometimes simultaneously.

Pie opens Josh's heart and mind to the possibility of letting God [back] in. Even after one day, Josh finds himself second-guessing his thoughts and actions - and his words. He finds himself drawn to Pie's overall calm demeanor and as he helps the older man through what seemed to be a near-depresion, Josh rediscovers his true self, the boy God wants him to be.

But these things take time. Josh still makes fun of others, is still willing to play his harsh video games and get near a Ouija board multiple times, and will still steal - to a point. What once was no sweat though becomes more difficult for him to face.

What really drew me to entering the giveaway was that this was about Catholicism and about St. John Bosco, whose people I've worked/interacted with before. I was very glad to have won and when I started reading, I realized it has the same flow (yet different overall structure and story) as the "Joshua" series by Joseph Girzone. Like I said, their stories are COMPLETELY different, but the style is one I truly enjoy.

What made me feel weird inside was when Pie was praying the Angelus. It has been 10 years since I have heard it. I found myself trying to jump ahead and stumbling over my memory. All through high school we prayed it at noon, and I still couldn't remember it.
Being away from Catholicism makes me yearn for it more than ever.


Here are some important things to take away from this book, whether you've already known them or not:

- God loves and forgives, but it's up to us to accept the fact that we're stupid humans and God understands that.
- God has given us RULES, not suggestions
- Whether you believe it or not (and I've always believed it as a priest was a family friend for the longest time and helped raise me in a way) priests sin and have feelings/emotions too.
- God is present in all things - including baseball and food!
- Hatred festers at the soul, like mold to bread.
Profile Image for Leslea Wahl.
Author 16 books98 followers
February 19, 2018
life-changing time in his past. The way the story is written I assumed several key aspects of the story, but I just couldn’t wait to see how it played out. I was so moved by the story of Josh and the elderly gentleman he reluctantly befriends, Pie.
The relationship between these two unlikely friends was incredibly touching. My heart went out to both of these characters - the snarky teen and the curmudgeony old man. The voice of the lead character, Josh, is fantastic, the smart aleck language - absolutely brilliant. I could just feel this young boy’s angst and anger as he continued his struggle over the death of his father.
This is such a powerful book about healing and how God’s love works within us and through those we meet. What an inspiring, thought-provoking novel.
Profile Image for Ellen Gable.
Author 21 books137 followers
January 2, 2014
Josh is an eighth grader with an attitude. When his teacher assigns a pen-pal project involving an elderly man in a rest home, Josh wants nothing better than to finish it and move on. Since his father died, Josh has become accustomed to doing the minimum at school, at home and at church. He is angry, frustrated and self-centered. When Josh finally meets his pen-pal, Pie, the feisty and devoutly Catholic elderly man challenges him in more ways than one. As Josh’s friendship with the man deepens, Josh realizes that he has much to be thankful for, most especially his friendship with Pie. This is a beautiful, well-written story and I highly recommend it for all ages!
1 review2 followers
December 4, 2013
October 5, 1947... "Back goes Gionfriddo...back, back, back...heee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, doctor!"... excerpt from "The Gate" by Nancy Carabio-Belanger. If you aren't hooked yet, you soon will be. Nancy Carabio-Belanger gets deep into the mind and heart of 8th grader Josh Lasko as he struggles with adolescence and acceptance. I purchased this book as a gift for a 12 year old, and decided to read a few pages before wrapping it up. I was hooked! Highly, highly recommended reading. Bravo, Nancy Carabio-Belanger this book is a home run!
Profile Image for Ann Marie.
68 reviews
February 13, 2018
Clearly, anything by Nancy Belanger is to be read. It's about this kid who lost his Dad two years ago and turned into a complete jerk and doesn't practice Catholicism anymore. For school, he meets a nice old man who helps him get closer to the church. He contemplates stealing and reads bad stuff, although they don't say what it is. Depending on how mature you are, junior high to early high school is when you should read this. I have this book as well.
35 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2015
The Gate by Nancy Carabio Belanger

This is one of my favorite books because the story is so beautiful. In the story, a kid named Josh, is assigned a pen pal, named Pie. Well he is assigned to Pie, Pie teaches Josh how to became a good Catholic.

I love this book and would recommend this book to all young Catholics.
28 reviews3 followers
September 11, 2015
This book is very good. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys spiritual books. It is about a boy who gets assigned a pen pal that who has a deep love for his Catholic faith. This book is so good you cannot stop reading it! The ending is so great and interesting.
Profile Image for Marilyn.
37 reviews
June 22, 2016
Just a beautiful book and definitely high on the favorites list. Made me quite emotional. A must read for elementary, middle and high school boys. Good for a family read aloud too. Much to think about family, vocations, the elderly, technology etc.
Profile Image for Kat .
89 reviews8 followers
February 12, 2019
The Gate was a very entertaining read and i really loved it. the characters were extremely lovable and were funny too. i loved Josh’s smart alec sense of humor and his sarcasm. and Pie made me laugh out loud. this was an inspiring read, i recommend it highly. it’s cool to see how much Josh changes throughout the book too. from a good kid who had dug himself into a really deep hole and can’t seem to find his way out, to a kid who comes to love his Catholic faith with a lot of help from a friend. i love YA Catholic fiction so this was perfect for me.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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