Pondering “Out of a Far Country”: The Good

Today, I finally finished reading “Out of a Far Country:  A Gay Son’s Journey to God.  A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope” by mother-son team Angela and Christopher Yuan.  It was an interesting read and I found it both enjoyable and problematic.  As such, I want to do a number of blog posts about it.  In this blog post, I am going to try to focus mainly on what I enjoyed abut the book.[1]

The book focuses on two stories (though I’m sad to say that the one story ultimately gets subsumed by by the other), the story of each of the two authors.  Christopher shares his journey of coming out, walking away from his biological family, making many bad decisions, facing the consequences of those decisions, and reclaiming his life and reuniting with his family.  It’s touching, moving, and raw.  As someone who loves both stories and seeking to understand the heroes of those stories, it made for an incredibly compelling read.

Intertwined throughout this was Angela’s own story and her journey through the initial shock of her son’s announcement that he was leaving[2], her conversion to the Christian faith, and her acceptance of and patience with her sons journey before finally being reunited with her.

In many ways, Angela’s story was far more interesting to me than Christopher’s, which is why I was sad at how her story seemed to become little more than a subplot in his journey rather than something in its own right.  In part, this was because while neither Angela nor Christopher use the word in the book, it seems pretty clear to me that Angela is codependent and her initial reactions to Christopher and his bad decisions epitomizes the controlling behavior that those of us who struggle with codependency are so prone to.  As such, I was able to relate to Angela’s journey of recognizing these behavior patterns in her life and changing them as much — perhaps more than — I could relate to Christopher’s story.  After all, Christopher’s journey and my own were quite different and we’ve arrived at different places.  As such, in many ways, I found myself drawn more to his mother.

I also admire the honesty and rawness with which both author’s described their experiences, thoughts, and feelings throughout their journeys as well.  It was easy to see and understand not only what they were going through, but how their experiences and responses to them transformed them.  As such, while there’s much about the book that bothered me (and I will get into that soon enough), I think it was well worth reading and would encourage interested people to give it a try.

I will note however, that it deals with many deep and potentially triggering topics (including homosexuality, family rejection, drug abuse, HIV, imprisonment, and religiously-based homophobia).  Anyone who does accept my recommendation needs to be ready to deal with heavy topics.

Notes:
[1] Sadly, what I found problematic about the book will likely take more than a single post.

[2] Though in fairness, Angela did lay down an ultimatum that contributed to Christopher’s decision.

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