I appreciate the honesty of a love story that blossomed in a society with a religious backdrop that caused it to be “forbidden”. The unveiling and discovery journey of the son, Joe, is extraordinary, as his biological mother, a Catholic nun reveals her struggle with loving the black priest, having his son, Joe, and her racial ambivalences. I love the mystical gentle Father’s prodding of Joe in dreams to do the book of his love. The book brings to life a complex Family with Great texture and Color. I would like to see it on film. It would make a great movie!
October 26, 2018
Loved the book! Loved how the author shared Joe's many personal identities - adoptee, racial, gay, religious, global, socio-economic, Harvard, etc. in such a vivid, yet nuanced, manner. I see a mini-series on the horizon.
“I enjoyed learning all about Sophie and Billie. They really had some obvious challenges due to their religious vows, racial attitudes for the period and wanton feelings. I too would have discarded my vows and chasity belt for such a beautiful love! !!! I think the title "Forbidden Love" is quite appropriate.”
A defiant love story between a Polish Nun and a black Priest
Forbidden Love, written by Lisa Jones Gentry as told by Joe Steele, is in the fifties in Buffalo, New York. But if that transgressiveness wasn’t enough to arrest the reader’s attention, this memoir also speaks to the power of love between a long-lost son and a biological mother forced to give up her biracial son to an adoption agency where he remained until the age of two. Joe ‘s birth was a result of a powerful yet doubly illicit love between two individuals who in God’s eyes and in society’s, should not have been joined together. The offspring of this love that defied tradition, Joe, the son of Father William Grau,
and Sister Sophie Legocki has yearned for his past. Through a wave or unpredictable circumstances, Joe eventually meets his biological mother in a hospital in Buffalo, where during the final months of her life, she journeys back in time detailing her relationship with Billy, Joe’s deceased father. Through this retrospective narrative, Joe comes to learn about both his parents and their union and ultimately is able to come to terms with his identity in unanticipated ways. Forbidden Love is a universal story that will transform all who have ever doubted the power of love and its ability to transcends all.
–Kpakpundu Ezeze, Silver Spring, MD
Such a captivating story. Religion, racism, and love all entwined in one man’s journey to discover his heritage. Loved it!
–September 24, 2018
I am adding it to my favorites! I loved and was very touched by the author's story. I think anyone who has ever been in deep love or has struggled with racial tension or identity conflicts and how to maneuver through their trials and obstacles can relate to it. And most definitely if you are/were Catholic and are aware of the rules/restrictions, it adds a whole new dimension of interest to the story. It is a very interesting story with aspects that everyone can relate to.
Lorna S - September 14, 2018
"Outstanding book! Sensitively written that takes the reader to a place where they understand the compelling feelings of the characters. A true love story that results in the birth of an outstanding intelligent and beautiful addition to society. Buy the book and see how even "forbidden love" can have wonderful results!"
Joy Harris - September 14, 2018
Maybe you too are weary of hearing the phrase, "In our current climate." To me, it's yet another reminder that right now hate and incivility swirl around us every day. This book is a quick little escape hatch into what feels like an old Harlequin romance. Like a dog-eared, racy paperback that ladies pass around to each other at the hairdresser. Except the main characters in this one are an inter-racial, nun-and-priest combo that never ever should have hooked up according to any logical or societal or clerical standards. A black American priest and white Polish-American nun in the late 50's early 60's? Are you kidding me? Crazy-sounding but true. The product of their rather steamy, covert union is the living, breathing, recipient of this motherlode of a story as told to him by his birth mother, the former nun. Nearly impossible to get your head around, but oddly familiar at the same time. The familiarity being references to trappings of black culture that cut both ways for those of us who are, or look, bi-racial. Too light to avoid annoying black people and too black to be comfortable with whites who would prefer we not call out our blackness. Afros that won't curl. Jack and Jill socials for the light-skinned kids. The book flip flops between the lives of the son who was put up for adoption as an infant, the nun's life and the father's life so buckle your seat belt to follow the sometimes abrupt scene and time period changes. But it's a seesaw that's well worth embarking. It reminded me of the brilliant psychologist Evelyn Hooker's quote, "love is love no matter where you find it." Find this book and read it now.
Lisa Stewart - September 13, 2018
“This story is told with so much love, depth and empathy. The details are engulfing and will definitely snare one into seeing the humanistic and natural sides of emotions which are experienced, at some point, by most of us through the lives of a man and woman from which these emotions are least expected because of their committed lives of a Catholic priest and a Catholic nun. So refreshing — knowing that they too — were two people who just wanted to love and be loved like most of us. Excellent!!!”
Jakee Steele - September 9, 2018
I finished reading your book and would be remiss if I did not tell you how much I ABSOLUTELY LOVED it. I even cried at the end which is super rare for me. I read A LOT (sometimes several books a month) and it is well written and captivating. In fact, I am adding it to my favorites list and there are few books I add to that.
I love and was very touched by your story. I think anyone who has ever been in deep love (I am fortunate to know this sentiment) or has struggled with where they belong and how to maneveur those obstacles can relate to it. And most definitely if you are/were Catholic and are aware of the rules/restrictions, it adds a whole new dimension of interest to the story.
As you, I am African American but few people can tell until I get around my peeps LOL. I grew up in a white neighborhood- actually we were the only family of color in the whole town- so the identity conflicts spoke volumes to me too. I am sure all people of color, not just AA’s, can relate to the racial tension your parents endured. I can relate to your 9/11 introduction too as it too changed my life in so many ways and I love the intermingling of your dad’s “messages” to tell his story through Sophie- totally can relate to that after several of the experiences I have had.
Lorna Smith – August 15, 2018