Porcelain Faith

Fiction - Social Issues
324 Pages
Reviewed on 04/06/2018
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

As a retired high school Social Studies teacher who served for over 25 years with the NYC Department of Education, I learned from long experience that there is a crucial need to address important social issues that have been both under-discussed and misunderstood. These contemporary issues have a very real impact on the lives of many people in communities all across our nation. Porcelain Faith is my own personal, heartfelt attempt to address that unfortunate misunderstanding by creating a work of literature that strives to bring a greater awareness and clarity to the topics of gender neutrality, slut-shaming and LGBTQ concerns.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

A brilliantly plotted and beautifully written novel, Porcelain Faith: A Novel by Anthony Civiletti takes readers through a web of complex relationships in a world that has its own share of issues. Meet James, a man who is struggling to cope with the social changes around him and who also has issues with the woman he loves. Leah is worried about her relationship with her new boyfriend, James, and so she seeks help from the most unlikely of people — Sylvia. Leah’s former prom date has just been disowned by his father, who is a Lutheran pastor, because he is gay. Leah wants to get James to step in and help Daniel fix his relationship with his parents. Can Leah succeed in creating harmony in her chaotic world? There is so much for readers to discover in this novel.

The characters are beautifully crafted and they feel real — with their worries, their anxieties, and their quest for meaning. Leah was my favorite character, generous and seemingly naïve. James is a strong character, but his challenge in accepting change and reconciling with the fact that things can’t always be the way he wants them to be is evident in the narrative. Anthony Civiletti knows how to infuse life and humanity into his characters, exploring different themes such as sexuality, gender, and family, and the realism in the story is strong. The setting comes out beautifully. One of the things that caught my attention is the author’s ability to create dynamic and focused scenes; the prose is powerful and the narrative voice is also very clear and compelling. Porcelain Faith: A Novel is well done and hugely entertaining.

Deborah Lloyd

James Citera, a 43-year-old school teacher from Brooklyn, and Leah Leibner, his 34-year-old friend from Manhattan, were embarking on a possible new relationship. Both had experienced painful divorces and were moving forward with caution. James had been exploring different world religions, concepts such as Natural Laws, and his own faith beliefs. Leah was a free-spirited woman who was beginning to realize her happiness could not be found in freedom with no rules. On a Sunday outing, James saw Leah approach an apparently homeless man. The man was Daniel Andersen, with whom she had gone to high school, and to a prom. Daniel shared his struggles in being a gay man, whose father is a Lutheran minister – and the ensuing estrangement from his parents. James and Leah find a way to bring healing to this relationship, as well as finding peace in their own. In Porcelain Faith, author Anthony Civiletti explores many compelling topics, such as faith, love and commitment.

While this fictional book is centered around a love story, it is a much more complex work. Some religious beliefs are explored through the lens of James’ studies, and his personal struggles with these concepts. At the same time, the author’s writing is clear and concise, and there is the appropriate amount of balance between concepts and the personal story of James and Leah. Author Anthony Civiletti has aptly crafted a meaningful novel in Porcelain Faith, with well-chosen “hidden” meanings. For example, the end of the novel occurs on Easter Day, a day of new beginnings for Christians. This thought-provoking book is one to be savored.

Mamta Madhavan

Porcelain Faith by Anthony Civiletti is a story that explores relationships, love, and social values through the stories of James, Leah, Daniel, and Sylvia. James and Leah are struggling with their relationship. James likes reading and occasionally pens a poem, and he is observant of the cultural changes happening around him. Leah introduces James to her old high school friend, Daniel, and, like James, he too enjoys playing chess. As the story progresses, readers get to see changes in the relationships between these four to the extent of making them complicated and unusual.

The author handles changing relationships and their complexities poetically using metaphors, which gives a wonderful feeling while one is reading. The different themes of love, gender, sexuality, and family have also been woven seamlessly into the plot and they elicit feelings of humaneness and a sense of reality from readers as well as the well-portrayed characters. The plot is insightful, will make readers think deeply about life and its complications, and it also speaks about inner freedom, making choices, and personal struggles undergone by the characters. The narration is fluid and the author’s descriptions make the scenes vivid and the characters real and relatable to readers. It is just not another love story; it is a story that explores love, its nuances, the complications, the layered meanings, and relationships. The beautiful settings, the conflicts, drama, and the personal love story of James and Leah make Porcelain Faith by Anthony Civiletti a compelling read.

Divine Zape

Porcelain Faith: A Novel by Anthony Civiletti is a wonderful story that explores the themes of change, relationships in an ever-changing environment, social values, and identity crisis. Readers are introduced to a cast of very compelling characters. James has a shaky relationship with Leah, and while Leah is concerned about the problems her former prom-date-turned-gay (Daniel) now has with his father, a pastor, she has to get James to help Daniel. Things just become more complicated when Leah enlists the help of Sylvia, an MSW student in her twenties. Follow these characters as they try to understand themselves while seeking answers on pressing issues that directly affect their relationships, their sense of self-worth, and their identity.

The author shows great skill in storytelling and while he indulges readers with interesting details, he doesn’t fail to keep the pacing fast and to explore the different levels of the conflict. Details like James spitting out a piece of another of his nails that he had just bitten off, the feel of the garden, and the sensation of autumn in his soul during springtime are some of the examples of images that embellish the narrative. Character development is top in this novel and, from the start, the reader already gets a quick understanding that something isn’t quite right with James. Nature breathes everything spring, but his soul feels like autumn; he is agitated, and uneasy with himself.

I love the subtle way in which the author handles the theme of change, and the symbolism of the seasons that comes out beautifully in the narrative. I loved the drama, the conflict, and the depth of character exploration. The writing made me think, curiously, about the seasons of our soul. Anthony Civiletti’s writing is perceptive, and the entire novel features powerful insights into human nature, into ideas of love, and inner freedom. The characters are real and they evolve against a social backdrop that presents many challenges. Porcelain Faith is a novel laced with humanity and realism, a very interesting and engaging read.

Kimberlee J Benart

Porcelain Faith is a novel by Anthony Civiletti that uses the relationships (romantic, sexual, friendship) of its protagonists and secondary characters to address modern societal issues. James is a 43-year-old divorced classroom teacher who wrestles with the changes going on around him. From a Christian background, he also believes in reincarnation and appreciates other spiritual traditions. Leah is a 34-year-old divorced law school graduate of Jewish heritage who discusses philosophy with him, quite often over food and drinks, but so far, not in any sexual way. When Leah takes on the project of helping to reunite a gay friend with his parents, the truth about Leah’s social (read sexual in more ways than one) activities comes to light and their budding romantic relationship is stressed to breaking point.

I have a mixed reaction to Porcelain Faith. On the one hand, I like the idea of a novel that can combine several themes, such as a romance story that also discusses spiritual or philosophical thought; something that is both entertaining and edifying. Readers who have never heard of Friedrich Nietzsche or had reason to delve into Christian doctrine may learn something in reading this novel. There is no true love yet between James and Leah, for all that each speaks of feeling it and both want it. Their relationship is too brief, let alone that it's based on deception. These are two people who see something in the other that they want in their lives, but they are at odds with each other because their relationship isn't based on knowing who they truly are and loving and accepting it. That said, Civiletti leaves us with food for thought about what true love means, and anything that does that has value.