No Going Back — Reviews, Interviews, Etc.

Scroll down or follow the links below for brief summaries and links to online reviews, interviews, etc.

Mormon Literary Sites and Organizations
Reviews from the Mormon Gay/Same-Gender Attracted Universe Mormon Mom and/or Book Blogs
non-LDS Reviews
Collective Review Sites
Oddball Reviews
Interviews and Miscellaneous



Salt Lake City Weekly
A short, positive notice by Dallas Robbins, connected to my upcoming book signing (on July 13, 2010). He writes in part: “Langford’s novel explores complexities of life without preaching to preconceived ideologies or pandering to false dichotomies, and it reminds readers of the need to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’ Langford succeeds in this novel, which does what good stories do: make us all a little wiser about human nature.

Ogden Standard-Examiner
A mostly positive review by Doug Gibson, who calls No Going Back “too didactic sometimes” and complains about one of my common patterns for starting scenes, but also calls it “a powerful tale” and says, “I wish this book was on the shelves at Deseret Book. A lot of us could benefit by reading it.”

BYU Daily Universe
Not a review but a feature article about the book on the front page of BYUs daily newspaper, Jan. 19, 2010, including quotes from me, Rex Goode, and Steve Walker. Positive overall and pretty accurate. See the easy-to-read online version, or a PDF showing the article on the actual front page.

Daily Utah Chronicle (University of Utah)
A positive review by Devin Richey at the University of Utah student newspaper. It states in part, “No Going Back is a coming-of-age story, but it manages to not fall into the formulaic pitfalls of that genre. Langford handles the characters with an authenticity that might baffle those who have already made firm assumptions about either of the groups.... [Readers] who do hold opinions one way or the other... will find allies in the book and might be surprised when ideological opponents defy their generalized and expected behaviors.”

UVU Review (Utah Valley University)
A negative review by Matthew Jonassaint at the UVU student newspaper. The reviewer found No Going Back “contrived” and unengaging. Ah, well. Cant please all readers... A later article by the same writer clarified that his chief objection was that it “advocate[s] refusing the 'homosexual lifestyle' and remaining in the Church to stick it out,” something he feels is “damaging to men and their friends and families.” I posted a couple of comments in response.

USU Statesman (Utah State University)
A mostly positive review by Chelsey Gensel, a “reader and a former Mormon” for the USU student newspaper in Logan, Utah. Despite “predictability and poorly-masked attempts at twists in the plot,” the reviewer calls the characters “well-developed” and says that “Langford succeeds in making it realistic along most of the way, particularly in his ending.” The review concludes: “It is the best attempt I’ve seen, in text or otherwise, at exploring both sides of a complex and often misrespresented situation, whether one shares Langford’s perspective or not.”

St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press
A short, positive mention of No Going Back by Mary Ann Grossman, the book review editor for the Pioneer Press, as part of a column titled “Worthwhile midsummer fiction from Midwest writers.” Sadly, it’s no longer freely available on the Internet, but I included the text in a blog entry that you can find here. Highlight: “Your heart will break for Paul, the teen told by church leaders that it’s OK to be gay as long as he doesn’t act on it.... Langford’s dialogue is pitch-perfect, and these boys are as real as the kids you see on St. Paul’s streets.”

Mormon Literary Sites and Organizations

A positive review by Richard Packham, posted on the email discussion group of the Association for Mormon Letters Oct. 30, 2009. He wrote in part: LDS readers who want to know more about what life is like for a young Mormon homosexual, or who want insight into how to deal with a young Mormon with same-sex attractions, should read this novel.Click here to read this review in the AML Discussion Board.

And another positive review posted on AML-List, this one from
Vickie Cleverley Speek. She writes in part: The characters in this book are very real, with human frailties and characteristics — some good, some bad.... No Going Back is an important story.... I highly recommend this book.” Her one criticism — something I admit had not occurred to me — was that the names of the teenagers seemed “a generation older than the actual setting for the story. There's always something you miss...

A Motley Vision: Mormon Arts and Culture
Katherine Morris at A Motley Vision blog wrote in part,
One of the things that always concerned me when reading [gay Mormon] narratives was the lack of any kind of well-balanced position from a faithful Latter-day Saint perspective... Most things written on this subject tend to say one of two things: (a) Keeping your covenants isn’t possible, so give up now or (b) You have to keep your covenants, but we can’t really tell you how to do that in practical terms. That’s what’s so remarkable to me about No Going Back... [W]hat impressed me even more about the story was the charity and compassion with which Langford portrays his protagonist and his other characters... Jonathan doesn’t gloss over the difficult, emotionally dissonant position Paul is in. He doesn’t pretend like it’s a struggle that has easy answers... But Jonathan also respects Paul by not pretending that his struggle can’t on some level be resolved in a way that brings internal peace. He presents Paul with the option of finding joy in keeping his covenants with God. She concludes: I know that it’s kind of cliché to use the term brave when describing a work, but in the case of No Going Back, the word applies in a very literal way. It’s not easy to write about something so controversial in an honest way... Thanks for taking that risk, Jonathan, and giving Mormonism something that will help a lot of people who are struggling.

Dialogue: A Journal of  Mormon Thought
In a review appearing in the fall 2010 Dialogue, Christian Harrison wrote:
[E]arly one morning, I reached for the book before slipping out of bed. Five hours later, I was still there, wrapped up in a story both familiar and foreign — each character flawed yet sympathetic, and the whole story infused with a gentle warmth.... Langford doesn’t just put his cast in a real place and time but surrounds them with actual events and everyday brands — gracing the story with a certain authenticity. And it doesn’t end with references to video games and rainy weather. It’s in the sometimes-awkward teenage dialogue — and the different, yet somehow still imperfect dialogue of the grown-ups. It’s this candor, I suspect, that will give the story a solid shelf life.... Every reader will likely take something different away from the book. But each, I suspect, will leave feeling a little more hopeful. And if they’re anything like me, they’ll also have wept a little more than they’re willing to admit.” To see the full review (posted with permission on my website, since it isnt available yet on the Internet for non-subscribers), click here. (Its in PDF format; the review, titled Characters to Care About, starts halfway down the first page.)

Irreantum, a literary journal published by the Association for Mormon Letters, featured a double review by Shelah Miner of No Going Back and Todd Robert Petersens Rift in Volume 12, Number 2 (published in December 2010). Its not yet available online, but the part about No Going Back is quite similar to the review published on Shelahs website, with the addition of the following lead-in paragraph: “For nearly a quarter century, Frank Windham has been lonely. The main character of Levi Petersons The Backslider, hes been Mormon fictions Ahab, our Huck Finn, our Holden Caulfield. Hes been one of the few interesting, flawed, endearing and complicated characters at the heart of a novel written about Mormon experience. But no more: in the last year Jens Thorsen, from Todd Robert Petersons Rift, and Paul Flitkin, from Jonathan Langfords No Going Back, join Frank Windham, creating a brotherhood of Mormon male characters.” Positive stuff, though I can't help but wish theyd spelled Pauls last name right...

The Low-Tech World
Scott Hales, an insightful reviewer and literary scholar with a particular interest in Mormon literature, argues for No Going Back as a novel of ideas which, while didactic in some senses, avoids both sentimentalism and “utopian spaces.” “Langford’s after conversation, not conversion,” he states. “[H]e wants his readers to interrogate themselves — both their reactions to Paul’s choice and the assumptions underlying those reactions. Then make some changes in the way they act, understand, and treat others.... [W]hat Langford does with No Going Back is show that the issue of Mormonism and homosexuality is complicated — and every voice at the roundtable discussion needs to be heard.” Despite some stylistic stutters, “No Going Back is an important contribution to the genre of gay Mormon fiction.”

Dawning of a Brighter Day: AML Blog
Not a full-blown review, but a positive mention in a column titled
More on Messages and Agendas by Annette Lyon, author of multiple LDS novels, a Whitney Award finalist and (it turns out) judge. Talking about the dangers of didacticism, Lyon wrote: [No Going Back] was a potential didactic landmine, but the topic was handled skillfully. The characters were real. They were put into heartbreakingly difficult situations. And in the end, they stayed faithful to the gospel even though they had no clear-cut, easy answers. It was downright refreshing. Kudos... Langford didnt set out to teach or preach. He set out to explore the what if of being a faithful LDS teen who happens to be gay.” See also my interview at her blog in December 2010.

Coming Down the Mountain
Based on a description of the topic of No Going Back, LDS author Karen Jones Gowen was sure she didn't want to read it. Then her editor won a copy in a contest and passed it on to her. On reading the book, she found it to be a deeply spiritual, faith-affirming story that is neither contentious nor agenda-driven.... richly layered and complex, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching, a finely written tale of depth and meaning. According to Gowen, The character development is incredible. Read it if only to see the artistry with which Langford creates his cast of players. Even minor characters come to life on the page.Click here to read this review.

Karen also posted a three-part interview with me about my writing process, the novel itself, and my publisher Zarahemla Books.

LDS Forever Friends Book Nook
Teri Rodeman awarded No Going Back 5 stars, writing: For his debut novel, Jonathan has hit a homerun with this heartfelt, compassionately honest coming-of-age story of a fifteen year old's struggle with same-sex attraction.... This powerful novel is about friendship. Click here to read this review.

Teri also posted an interview with me about the writing of No Going Back, the use of graphic language in the novel, and a variety of other interesting questions.

The Write Stuff
In a sidebar under the heading Worth Your Time to Read, Pam Williams at The Write Stuff wrote in part, “No Going Back by Jonathan Langford is a difficult novel to read, but worth it.... Definitely not a young adult book, this is a must-read for adult leaders who deal with teens.... Most outstanding in the book is Paul’s bishop who loves and guides him with the kind of compassion many of his peers don’t have.”

My Paige
A positive mention in the context of LDS author Michele Paige Holmess discussion of her experience as a Whitney Awards judge: Jonathan Langford’s book, No Going Back, dealt with a subject matter—a teen boy’s struggle with same sex attraction—that I didn’t particularly want to delve into. As a mother of a teenage boy, this pretty much sounded like one of my worst nightmares. Based on that, one would think that there was no way this book was going to be my “favorite” or anything close. I began reading, and I wasn’t very far into the story before I found myself really caring about the main character and his plight. I’m happy to say I was one who voted it into finalist status. It was well-written and very deserving. (January 2011)

Reviews from the Mormon Gay/Same-Gender Attracted Universe

Springs of Water
A positive, thoughtful review/personal essay by Rex Goode, whose comments on AML-List years ago helped spark the ideas for this story and whose endorsement appears on the back to the book. He writes about the difficulty and importance of discussing same-sex attraction in a faithful LDS context, noting: “I can definitely guarantee that young people in our day are hearing about homosexuality in all sorts of places: the classroom, the streets, at friends’ houses, and the media. What seems most sad is that they don’t hear it from their parents and priesthood leaders.... That is why I was so anxious to endorse No Going Back and to encourage Jonathan Langford in writing it.... It... opens up opportunities for discussion. It seems to me that this is what good art is all about.... In an era where parents are struggling to be the main voice their children heed in matters of morality, we can’t afford to think that silence is the best way to teach them.”

North Star
Not a review per se, but several positive mentions of No Going Back on this website, which describes itself as a “place of community for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the values and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”:
I also was invited to write a Community Voices column at North Star, which you can find here. It focuses on my goals for writing No Going Back and some of the choices I made.

Northern Lights
From a website affiliated with North Star, another positive review by FoxyJ. The reviewer writes in part: “For me, one of the strengths of the book is [its] mundanity. While the focus of the book is on Paul’s struggle to understand himself and make sense of the relationship between his orientation and his membership in the Church, his character is firmly grounded in a world that feels real and believable.... Despite the fact that the main character is a teenager, this book really is for everyone. The worldview of the book is faithfully LDS, but in a way that still acknowledges the fact that all members of the Church face challenges to their faith.”

Family Fellowship
A mixed review from Janet Heimbigner, mother of a gay ex-Mormon man, who reviewed No Going Back for a Family Fellowship Forum in Provo, Utah, June 27, 2010. She found the teenage characters and their interactions realistic, liked the character of Pauls mother, but found the character of the bishop “contrived.” She states, “I found the ending to be crushingly depressing and at odds with the book’s title, No Going Back as Paul does, indeed, try and go back.  Back into the closet and hiding what and who he is. However,  she also writes, I give the writer high marks for tackling this subject at all. And whether I agree with the ending or the church’s position, it did open a very enlightening discussion with my son and his friends. For that reason alone I would recommend this book.  The review also includes comments from one of her sons friends.

The Fobcave My first full public review! And about as positive as I could hope for. Some highlights: “I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I flew through a year and a half of young Paul's life in less than three days.... I was a little hesitant going into No Going Back because I knew it was written from an orthodox Mormon view of homosexuality.... [Langford's] main characters remain loyal to orthodox Mormon doctrine, but he places them in a world that rings true to the world I see, where other characters are just as loyal to other beliefs... and none of them are portrayed two-dimensionally. Just about every character, from the protagonist to his straight best friend to his mom and the bishop and the members of the high school gay-straight alliance, breathes with the life only an author's love can infuse.”

Reaching Upward
Another positive review. Some excerpts:
No Going Back by Jonathan Langford is an amazing book.... It is written with an exceptional understanding of the challenges of being both gay and Mormon. The author is sensitive to a wide variety of feelings and opinions.... I am very happy I read this book and wish everyone I know would read it. For members of The LDS Church who might be cautious of the subject matter, I would say that this is a doctrinally sound book; it remains in harmony with the teachings of Christ. To people who do not belong to the LDS faith, this book is not an attack on gays in any way. It is neither homophobic nor bigoted.... GO READ IT!

Young Stranger
A thoughtful and mostly positive review by
John Gustav-Wrathall, writing from the perspective of “a gay man who has been in a committed relationship with his same-sex partner for nearly two decades, who also, thirteen years into their relationship, realized he was still a believing Latter-day Saint” (from — but who also has not felt right about abandoning his relationship with his husband. While liking much about the novel, Gustav-Wrathall also raises interesting questions about the message No Going Back sends about the Mormon position on homosexuality and about the intended audience for the novel. Nearly as interesting as the review itself was a follow-up discussion in the comments which (among other things) prompted me to write at length about several things related to my own reasoning and perceptions of what I was trying to accomplish in No Going Back.

Mormon Mom and/or Book Blogs

LDS Women's Book Review
A basically positive review, although the reviewer mentioned concerns by other reviewers about whether this is a book that LDS gay teens should read about the strong language and discussion of sexual themes. The review author (Sheila) refers to No Going Back as timely and needed and says, “Jonathan does a good job of showing the intense feelings and fears of the main character, Paul, and how others react to him.... [T]he story is very well written; especially the main character Paul and his compassionate Bishop.... I was touched by the story of Paul and Chad (His straight life-long friend) and how they came to value their friendship.”

The Book Worm's Library
A positive review from
Lisa (4 stars out of 6: “good read”). She wrote in part, “There [were] so many ways this book could go — everything from out right denouncing of the LDS church doctrines in this area, all the way through to a complete apology for the beliefs that Latter Day Saints hold.  So when I read this book I was impressed that Mr. Langford presented a story that needed telling — without taking sides over the issue at hand.... Mr. Langford has also written a powerful story that demonstrates the base of the problem in all associations — and that is finding acceptance in a naturally biased world.... Many of the themes and subjects found in this book are very timely, in all respects.  And it is a book that is a good exploration of the things that divide us, and helps us to see that though we may be different — in the end, the similarities that unite us cannot, and should not be ignored or overlooked.” Note that this is a revised version of the review that was originally posted (possibly due to technical problems at the website). (December 2010)

One Librarian's Book Reviews
While unsure who might be the natural audience for No Going Back, Melissa (an LDS reader whose blog does not have an LDS focus) was mostly positive in her review: “With a main character professing to be both gay and Mormon, there are lots who could take offense. I found myself entirely impressed with the skill and ability that Langford was able to capture the essence of what it must feel like to be torn in such a way. Paul felt very realistic to me — a teenager with the regular problems and a whole lot more stacked on his plate.... I especially liked how the ending was not so much happy as hopeful.”

Good Clean Reads
A positive review by Kim, who wrote in part:
“I really, really liked this book. It was not always comfortable to read but I grew to love the characters and really sympathized with the struggles they each had, including the parents and church leaders. I often found myself thinking, ‘Is this really the way teenage boys think, act, and feel?’ I definitely have a new perspective on what it means to be a young man and the issues they face, whether they’re gay or straight.”

Boojoos & Aprilcots
A positive review, though the reviewer disliked the unnecessary bad language and crudeness and felt the plot wandered. She wrote in part: I was proud of this little book. It fights an uphill battle. It's courageous and honest and probes the darker side of Mormonism with a very fair and realistic, yet respectful point of view.

Queen of the Clan
LDS author, editor, reviewer (and mom) Danyelle Ferguson was reluctant to look at No Going Back for a variety of reasons, but when it came up for an award for which she's one of the members of the awards committee, she felt she had to give it a chance. She wrote in part: I almost put this book down at page 14 because of the derogatory and demeaning language [in Chad's reaction to finding out his best friend Paul is same-gender attracted].... But I kept reading and I'm glad I did. The nasty words tapered off and a compelling story began to unfold - a story about Paul, a Mormon boy who happens to be attracted to other boys, but who's greatest desire is to keep the covenants he's made with Heavenly Father.... Overall, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read No Going Back. It was thought provoking and had just the right balance to truly portray the conflicts and struggles of a young Mormon boy dealing with same-sex attraction. Very well done.

Reader Mary Walling posted a highly positive review. She wrote in part:
I think for me towards the end during Paul's real trials with his being 'outed' is when I really felt for him.... The fact that Paul moves away at the end of the book, kind of symbolizes for me a new chance, a new beginning.  Like Christ gives each one of us and you have seemingly tied it in with Chad and Paul as each boy is blessing the sacrament...a renewing of our covenant each week with Christ.... Thanks for writing this wonderful book.

Shelah Books It
In process of reading for the Whitney Awards, Shelah Miner posted an 
off-the-cuff, first impressions review that nonetheless makes a number of interesting and thought-provoking points. While taking issue with some of the stylistic choices in the book, she goes on to state that she really liked it, particularly the characters: In so many of the books I've read... the Mormon characters seem sanitized, as if they've undergone a good, hot scrubbing before being sent off from central casting. Langford's Mormons are the Mormons I know: they're crusty, they complain about their husbands' callings, they swear, they get depressed, they gossip; they're not trying to make a statement about who Mormons are or should be, they just are... No Going Back touched a nerve with me, and I'm sure it will touch a nerve with all of its readers, no matter where they fall in their relationship to homosexuality and church policy. But sometimes touching a nerve is a good thing, as I think it is in the case of this novel.

Books Your Mother Would Approve Of
In our initial email exchange, the reviewer cautioned that while she applauded the goals I had outlined for my novel, she wasn't really sure it was possible to pull them off, so I needed to prepare for the possibility of an  absolutely scathing review. I sent a review copy anyway and was both pleased and relieved with her generally positive assessment. She writes in part: “Jonathan Langford has given a voice to many who struggle to remain true to God against nearly impossible odds. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to parents, leaders, or teachers in the church who want to understand some of the struggles involved. I also suggest it to anyone struggling with same-sex attraction in the Mormon community. It might not teach you a lot, but it could help you know that you are not entirely alone in trying to balance spiritual and physical desires and come out on God's side. Other people do experience the same struggles, remain determined to overcome, and even succeed.

Jewel's World
Jewel Adams, a wife, mother of eight, and published LDS author, reports:
Every parent knows how painful it is to watch your child make poor choices.... But then again sometimes they face weaknesses that they honestly fight to overcome, and it becomes a day-to-day struggle for them. You ache for them immensely, but you can't shelter them from the pain that could strengthen them and help them to grow.... No Going Back.... is the story of a Mormon teenager dealing with the issue of same-sex attraction. I was deeply touched by the story and I read the whole book in a day.... I was completely drawn in to the story and it stayed with me long after I finished the book.

Exclusively Books
A mostly positive review (4 stars out of 5) from a book blog of 7 LDS women from Australia. The reviewer states,
Having three boys of my own this story touched my heart.... I thought the author did a good job of writing from a boys point of view and as a mum it helped me a little to see where they are coming from.” However, she disliked the bad language and didn't feel the book dealt fairly with the reaction from the members in the ward or the bishop.

Mormonhermitmom's Book Blog
A fair and (I think) mostly positive review from the perspective of an LDS mom. She calls it a strong PG-13 but says those elements were mostly necessary for the story. She advises that if parents feel it's appropriate for their teens to read, they should read and discuss it together (a recommendation I endorse). She concludes: This book is not for the faint of heart. It's a hard one to read in the sense that there aren't easy answers for the challenges Paul goes through. I believe that the book encourages virtuous living by teens, whether gay or straight, with a hard look at the possible consequences should one go looking for comfort in places that are not spiritually healthy.

Mormonhermitmom also posted an interview with me, where she asked about what led to my writing this novel and about resources that are available to help teens and their parents dealing with situations like the ones I've depicted in my book. Good questions! I just wish there were better answers out there...

Dear cjane
Not exactly a Mormon mom or book blog, but a positive review that generated many comments. She writes in part, it is a hopeful, insightful and faithful story.

A short but positive review from LDS writer JoAnn Arnold, who calls No Going Back
well-written and compelling.

A person named Eunice
A positive mini-review by Darlene Young.
Her thumbnail description:I think this was an important story and told in an interesting and effective way. I’m glad it was published. The alternating viewpoint got a little monotonous at times and could be repetitive. I’m glad this book exists.” (February 2011)

Confessions of a Book Habitué
A positive review from Britt, who decided to read the book despite fears that it might portray Mormon belief negatively. Her reaction?
I loved it. Yes, parts were heart-wrenching and yes, there were things I didn't like, but overall I think the character of Paul is an absolutely brilliant portrayal of a teen struggling with his feelings for other men and his faith in the gospel.
This positive review (by Connie C.) is by a Mormon, but it's at a general (non-LDS-focus) site. Highlights:
I give this book a 5 star rating and recommend it to anyone who wants to be a better person and learn to love everyone no matter how they live their lives. I found it refreshing to read a more life like novel than most LDS fiction allows.... I think this book will appeal to all readers. No matter what the readers opinion is before they read [the book], they will have a better understanding of the real life emotions that come from same sex attraction as well as how society treats them in reality. I thought this book was written with adults in mind even though most of the characters are teenagers.

One Literature Nut
A positive review by Becky, who wrote in part: “There were many layers of conflict built into this story, which I think does a nice job of touching on some of the realities that must surround a teen who wants to admit that they are gay…. There aren’t any easy or pat answers given in the book, which is probably for the best, but this story tries to tackle them head on.  For starting a dialogue and giving voice to teens also coming out, this book does a really nice job.”

It’s All About Books
A mostly positive review from Suey, who awarded an A- (3 stars out of 5). She wrote in part: I loved how this issue was left in a hopeful way, where he didn’t necessarily have to decide, at least at this young time in his life, to deny either part of himself…. Bottom line: In the end, I’m glad I read this one! I would like to think that this book would be a help for anyone, especially a Mormon teenager, going through this same situation.” (March 2011)

Alison Can Read
A thoughtful and positive review from an LDS book blogger in Minnesota who writes for a primarily non-Mormon audience. While raising concerns about the audience (teen versus adult, Mormon versus non-Mormon), she praises the book for its evenhandedness and sense that
I... didn’t feel like I was being preached to. Considering that the characters’ religious beliefs were frequently discussed, that’s really saying something. My favorite part of the review: I’m obviously not a teenage boy, but I think Mr. Langford perfectly captured a 15-year-old boy’s voice.... I loved how Paul and Chad messed with each other, trading barbs back and forth. It added bits of humor to an otherwise serious book. It also allowed them to discuss difficult issues, albeit in the uncomfortable, halting way that boys and men often do. (March 2011)

non-LDS Reviews

i swim for oceans
A highly positive review from Melissa, a non-LDS blogger, who writes in part: “Langford has created a masterpiece in No Going Back. Brimming with morals but never preachy, heartwrenching but never overdone, the story of Paul is one of valor, life, and love of belief and oneself — something everyone can relate to on some level…. The prose is real and honest — a bit too gritty and brutal at times, but it works between a male teenage MC and his friends. Paul is well-rounded and tangible, and I enjoyed the level of detail when it came to showing what Paul was attempting to reconcile with in the LDS religion…. No Going Back was a powerful, moving read with a strong message of friendship, family and tolerance. Whether religious or not, I believe everyone can find a meaning in this book, and need for a few tissues, as it’s a tearjerker.”

American Library Association GLBTRT Newsletter

A positive review from Dave Combe in the Spring 2010 newsletter of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Round Table of the American Library Association. He wrote in part: There is much to admire in No Going Back, given its intended audience... Just as we fight for LGBT YA books to be in our libraries, so that LGBT youth can find themselves and their lives on the shelves, we should consider material that suggests to youth another choice, so that those who decide to choose faith will also find themselves there. Libraries located in communities or states where there is a sizable Mormon population should consider this book.” For full text of the review and some of my associated thoughts, click here to see the blog I wrote about it.

River Falls Journal
A positive review by retired English professor Ruth Wood was published in my hometown newspaper. Because online access to this review has been inconsistent, I've copied the relevant text here. I also wrote an online blog article about the review.

Eureka Pride
A positive review from the non-Mormon gay world by Amos Lassen, author of almost 3,000 reviews on, where this review was cross-posted. He writes in part,
This is a book about friendship and how Paul’s friend, Chad, learns the importance of it. The characters are real and not perfect as we find in other books that deal with Mormons, The struggle between desire and faith seems to always be with us and the author has us examine ourselves closely so that we can be more understanding and accepting of others.” Lassen awarded the book 5 stars (out of 5) at See also my blog essay, Writing Mormon Literature for a non-Mormon Audience, which was inspired in part by this review.

Book Loving Mommy
A positive review from Jessica, who wrote:
I was very hesitant to read this book when the author first asked me as it really isn't the kind of book I read a lot.  I am so glad I took the chance! This was an emotional book! My heart broke for Paul.... I really enjoyed reading it from Paul's point of view but my favorite was reading from the Bishop's point of view.... I think this is a book every adult should read.  It is not an easy read or even a fast read but a very emotional and honest read. Jessica didn't find anything to be confusing or hard to read despite not being Mormon.

The Little Bookworm
A mostly positive review from Andrea, who despite feeling that some of the dialogue and thoughts were awkward and that the subplot with Chad's mother was
wholly unnecessary and bogged the book down in places, nonetheless stated that “even given all of that, I still enjoyed this book. The characters and storyline was interesting enough to overcome it and I found myself impatient to find out what happens next. I became invested in Paul's situation and I wanted him to come out fine in the end. The resolution was satisfying.” In response to a follow-up query, Andrea said that despite not knowing much about Mormonism, she was mostly able to follow or infer the meaning of the Mormon elements. (October 2010)

YA Addict
A mostly positive review from Jami. Particular favorites for her were Paul and his best friend: 
I really loved Paul's character.... Langford caught the true voice of a teenage boy in both Paul and Chad. While enjoying the chance to  [learn] about other people's lives and how they believe, she did find some of the Mormon references confusing.

A Book Adventure
A short but mostly positive review from this blogger, who wrote in part: “This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s a hard one to read in the sense that there aren’t easy answers for the challenges Paul goes through. I believe that the book encourages virtuous living by teens, whether gay or straight, with a hard look at the possible consequences should one go looking for comfort in places that are not spiritually healthy.” (November 2010)

Words from the Tampa Bookworm
Laura Chamberlain wrote,
The topic of this book is a very tough one, but I found the situations to be very realistic and well written. I quickly became caught up in the story and found myself really caring about the characters. Even not being a Mormon, I did not have a hard time reading this at all. I personally found it interesting learning about the Mormon culture. I really liked Chad’s dad, the bishop. I thought he handled the situation very well considering his place. I did not particularly care for the ending, but the story itself was very good and showed just how important relationships are between family and friends.

Buried in Books
A very positive review from Heather, who found both the characters and the depiction of faith appealing despite not being Mormon herself. She wrote in part: [T]he day after Christmas, I picked it up and I couldn't put it down.  I was immediately gripped by the story.... But the most important story in here is the relationship Paul has with his faith..... Towards the last few pages, the tissue box came out.  I tried to be quiet because it was 2:00am and everyone was sleeping, except me the insomniac or reader with a great book.  Mr. Langford develops the characters so well, you feel exactly what they're feeling and at the end you can't help but cry with Paul and the bishop as he talks to Paul from his heart.  It was gut wrenching, bittersweet, you don't want that to be the solution and it makes me love Richard the bishop all the more.... I don't think I've seen any more well developed characters in the novels I've read this year than in this novel.... It is not the type of book I'd usually go for, but I found so much to recommend about the book.  The extremely well developed characters, their growth, the various relationships and how they grow, and how faith, in something bigger than yourself, can carry you through, guide you, help you make decisions, shape you, for better or worse.  I'm not sure I've ever had such a deep faith in anything, like Paul.  I hope I do someday.

Busy Moms Who Love to Read
A mixed review from
OutnumberedMama. While finding the book a little too preachy for non-Mormons and cautioning that You will definitely need an open mind to read this book for what it is, she also wrote: “I did like how Langford was able to cast a more positive light on a very controversial topic.... making it more human and real. The basis of the story is about friendship, learning what it really means and how far it can take you. I was pleased that the story did not come to a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but rather a realistic jumping off point for the rest of life.” (November 2010)

Luxury Reading
A highly negative review from Jessa L., an ex-Mormon whose chief objection to No Going Back appears to be its depiction of what she sees as a
hateful and intolerant [attitude]  towards people with a different sexual preference.” She concluded, The only people I know that would like this book are other staunch Mormons.

Collective Review Sites

As of January 24, 2012, there are 53 ratings of the book (averaging 3.83 out of 5 stars — six 5s, thirty-three 4s, thirteen 3s, and one 2), 32 posted reviews, and about 50 people who are currently reading the book or have marked it to-read. To see the ratings and reviews, click here.
As of January 24, 2012, there are 15 posted reviews, with three awarding 5 stars (out of 5), seven awarding 4 stars, one awarding 3 stars, and four awarding 1 star. To see the ratings and reviews, click here.

Oddball Reviews

Main Street Plaza
A rather mixed review, leading to a vigorous discussion that took some odd turns. I found myself disagreeing both with some of the conclusions and with what I felt were unjustified (and uninformed) assumptions about my personal life.

Standard of Liberty
A highly negative review from a website that states, one can't be both a true follower of Christ and proclaim a gay identity.... If a young person you know announces he’s gay, do not accept this deception to any degree.” Describes the book as overlong, self-conscious... including vulgar sex jokes among kids, that cannot decide its audience and goes nowhere.” Another highly negative review quoting extensively from the book (often out of context) was posted on the website maintained by this group calling me and publisher Chris Bigelow latter-day Korihors.


20 Questions: Jonathan Langford (River Falls Community Television)
Streaming video of a 45-minute interview with Gail Upton for my local community television station.

The Lyon
s Tale
As a follow-up to her positive comments about No Going Back on the AML blog almost a year before, LDS author Annette Lyon posted an interview with me at her own blog in December 2010. It gave me a change to talk about some things I hadn
t been asked before.

Coming Down the Mountain
Following up her review of No Going Back, LDS author Karen Jones Gowen posted a three-part interview with me about my writing process, the novel itself, and my publisher Zarahemla Books.

LDS Forever Friends Book Nook
Following up on her review of No Going Back, Teri Rodeman posted an interview with me about the writing of No Going Back, the use of graphic language in the novel, and a variety of other interesting questions such as my reasons for choosing a 2003-2004 timeframe, whether some readers shy away from Zarahemla Books (my publisher) and why, and how my ward has reacted to my writing of this novel.

Preparing Kids for Society's New Gay Attitude
Chris Bigelow, owner and operator of Zarahemla Books (my publisher), emailed me an article from the New York Times on kids across the United States coming out as gay or bisexual in middle school. I replied in part: Reading this article underscores just how ill-prepared we are as a Mormon culture to try to help kids deal with this. We're still playing catch-up from when most LDS kids who experienced same-sex attraction were in denial until after their missions. The greater openness of today's society means we can't afford the luxury of waiting until our kids have a firm spiritual foundation before we try to address this." Then we expanded it into an interview on the Zarahemla Author Blog. (Interview posted 10/1/09.)

Update on Previous—On Oct. 4, Janice Graham at the Standard of Liberty blog objected at length to what she saw as an endorsement of the idea that homosexuality is innate and immutable" in the email sent by Chris Bigelow in connection to the New York Times article on middle schoolers coming out, and the quote from me in that email. That night, I posted a response, which has not however appeared on the Standard of Liberty site. This is what I said. (See also my link to their later, highly critical review of my book, above under Oddball Reviews.)

Mormonhermitmom's Book Blog
Following up on her review of No Going Back, Mormonhermitmom asked about what led to my writing the novel and about resources that are available to help teens and their parents dealing with situations like the ones I've depicted in my book. (Interview posted 10/5/09.)


Striving for Understanding
A Community Voices column written by me and published at North Star about my goals and some of my choices in writing No Going Back.

Gay and/or Mormon: A Storyteller’s Perspective (Segullah)
A guest post at Segullah (description: “Mormon women blogging about the peculiar and the treasured”) in which I talk some about the variety of responses I’ve received from people who are (or once were) Mormon and same-sex attracted and why I feel it’s important for those stories to be heard, regardless of the value or otherwise of my own book as part of that effort.

On Writing a Realistic Novel

A blog entry I wrote and feel fairly pleased about on why I felt it was important to write No Going Back as a realistic novel.

Writing Rookie series
A series of blog posts by me about my experiences writing No Going Back (now continuing to discuss post-NGB writing) at A Motley Vision Mormon Arts and Culture website.

Whitney Awards Discussions
No Going Back was mentioned by William Morris at A Motley Vision and by Shelah at Segullah in talking about their recommendations for the 2009 Whitney Awards.

Gay YA Books Discussion on
With some degree of trepidation, I mentioned No Going Back in a discussion on about gay young adult books. A couple of people there read it, with mixed results: one hated it (and used it as a chance to express his strong anti-Mormon sentiments), while another person liked it (for his comments, look under batchelorboy on the No Going Back Comments page on my blog).

Mormon Mommy Blog Posts
Starting in October 2010, I have been asked to post on topics at the Mormon Mommy Blog. For the most part, these have nothing to do with No Going Back, homosexuality, etc., but rather are more light-hearted essays about life. Click here to see an updated list of my blog posts at the Mormon Mommy Blog (and to other blogs such as A Motley Vision and Dawning of a Brighter Day, the Association for Mormon Letters blog).

Press Releases

Book Release (22 Sept. 2009)

This page last updated January 24, 2012.