By Jeff Walsh
In "Seventy Times Seven," Salvatore Sapienza's debut novel, Brother Vito is living a double life. By day, he teaches the boys in his high school religion class. But at night, he might be anywhere from a Pet Shop Boys concert, a dance floor, or a sex club.
It's not the book you're thinking, though. Vito isn't living a double life. The brothers in his house know he's gay, and his gay friends know about his religious life. Throughout the course of the novel, Vito struggles to choose between two sides of his being that seem perfect and whole to him, except they can't coexist.
Obviously, you might hazard a guess at which side wins out, because otherwise they'd be writing this book up on religious websites instead. But the journey is interesting because of that duality. Vito has a true yearning for the gift that he finds in his religious life and its spirituality. It isn't the closeted priest and the big declaration or scandal that people might expect. As Vito weighs the pros and cons, he keeps making good points for each. It isn't that he just has a blind spot that prevents the decision.