The story of Ben Quinn, a man with suppressed rage and a lifetime of resentment against his parents, who returns to his childhood home in Billings, Montana to confront his traumatic and chaotic childhood and the family secrets he only just learned about. As he boards the plane that will take him to Billings, he knows he must face the rage and confusion that have colored his life and his other relationships. He knows that the traumas of his childhood must, somehow, give up their power over him if he is to ever be able to move forward. And he also knows that exposing his childhood secrets will change the lives of everyone he loves.
This work of literary fiction is told partially in flashbacks, and partially in present day, allowing the reader to see the immediacy of how Ben’s past impacts his life in the present time. The main character is not always easy to love. and at first can seem arrogant and closed. But as the book progresses it becomes clear that these character defects are really defense mechanisms and are not reflective of the true nature of the man. Ben has learned to wear many masks in order to deal with his past and with the emotional aftermath of that past, and any reader with insight will be able to relate to wearing masks to hide pain, even if the details are different. Indeed, this is both a gripping story, almost a mystery, and a meditation on how our past colors our entire lives. And in that way, its message is universal. Ben, who is gay and struggles with general family issues, becomes a sort of hero and role model for his willingness to walk through the pain in order to get past it. It’s a formula that most of us could benefit from but that very few of us have the bravery to undertake.
Beautifully written, with plot twists and more than a few surprises and revelatory moments, this is also a meditation on wholeness and letting go of pain. A work of family fiction that is funny and moving at the same time and that stays with you put it down.
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About the Author
Thomas Whaley was born in 1972 and has lived on Long Island his entire life. Since early childhood, he enjoyed writing poems, short stories or funny scripts for his friends to act out. Most importantly, Thomas loved to entertain those around him, especially children. This eventually led him to change his career path and become an elementary school teacher at the age of 27. Since becoming a teacher in 1999, Thomas has taken his childhood pastime to the next level, authoring several children’s books and sharing them with his students and his own children.
Thomas has always enjoyed reading books, but particularly those that make him casually self-reflect or hysterically laugh at the idiosyncrasies of daily life. This is what inspired him to finally sit down and write Leaving Montana. Thomas currently lives in Shoreham, New York with his husband Carl, their two sons Andrew and Luke, and their loyal dog Jake.
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