Reviewed by Elise Abram
Hell and God and Nuns with Rulers
by John Collings
Black Rose Writing
Paperback: 240 pages, May 13, 2015, ISBN-13: 978-1612965208
In Hell and God and Nuns with Rulers, John Collings tells the story of Tristan Adamson, a teenager who goes to Catholic school, works at The Burger House, is enrolled in confirmation class, and since he met Thomas Edwards at a party, questions more than just his identity. Hell and God and Nuns with Rulers is a coming of age story that follows Tristan on his journey of self-discovery and how he comes to terms with what that means for his future.
I loved Hell and God and Nuns with Rulers from the first page. When Tristan begins with a diatribe on how parents just don’t understand, it is clear he is a young man more mature than his years would seem to suggest. As Tristan struggles with school, the crush his best friend has on him, and the crush he has on the young man he met at the party, the reader feels true empathy for the character. Collings’ writing style is conversational, personable, and real; I could almost imagine Tristan sitting across from me at a table in a coffee shop (or maybe over burgers at The Burger House) telling me how he set on his path of self-realization to emerge triumphantly okay at the end of it all.
In Tristan, Collings has created a character with which many teens will identify (indeed, most adults as well). Regardless of the religion in question, most of us struggle for a balance between the pious and the secular, and the ability to live our lives whilst pleasing both our parents and ourselves. And while many of us don’t grapple with the same potentially life-altering, game-changing issues as Tristan, we grapple with the issues nevertheless. That Tristan holds on and refuses to give up who he is to the pressure of others makes him not only memorable, but inspirational.