Gad is the head of the household, a prominent leader within the church, and riddled with issues. Some of these are generational, thanks to the abuse and ideals forced on him by his father. To smother his feelings and misgivings, he holds a tight, demanding control over his entire family. But, unfortunately, with human nature being what it is, it’s only a matter of time before this control slips and everything starts to fall apart.
The Gad-Aran storyline was difficult to read because of the continuation of this generational abuse. Gad attempts to control how Aran spends his time by forcing him to work in the family business and abandon any dreams unrelated to the family or church. He tries to tell him first who he should be dating and then who he most definitely should not be dating once Linda enters the picture. It ramps up even further when he discovers Aran is finding success as a painter. Instead of being proud that Aran found a way to follow the dream Gad’s father forced him to abandon, Gad becomes vindictive. He twists his beliefs to allow himself the ability to take revenge without guilt – instead, he feels it is his responsibility, maybe even his calling, to knock Aran down a peg and teach him a lesson. What makes this even more terrible is that while Gad is sure in his convictions, Aran spends the entire book worried that he is being tempted away from the ‘truth’ thanks to years of brainwashing.
Linda’s story was very relatable. She’s searching for a sense of family she’s never felt, willing to go to extreme lengths to find it. She leaps into the unknown to find what she is looking for, and I found her incredibly strong and brave. Because even while she is willing to do a lot to create her own sense of family, she still has a strong sense of morality and doesn’t give in to the brainwashing attempts by those around her. She’s able to recognise something good in Aran, and she finds a way to make things work, even when confronted by the absolute craziness of Gad and the control he attempts (mostly successfully) to exert over his family.