Thomas McGurrin is a fourth-grade teacher and openly gay man at a private primary school serving Portland, Oregon's wealthy progressive elite when he is falsely accused of inappropriately touching a male student. The accusation comes just as Thomas is thrust back into the center of his unusual family by his younger brother's battle with cancer. Although cleared of the accusation, Thomas is forced to resign from a job he loves during a potentially life-changing family drama.
Davison's novel explores the discrepancy between the progressive ideals and persistent negative stereotypes among the privileged regarding social status, race, and sexual orientation and the impact of that discrepancy on friendships and family relations.
By turns rueful, humorous, angry, and wise, Doubting Thomas marks the debut of an important writer.
“Sharply probing . . . Thanks to the care Davison pays to his characters—each one a fully realized, thinking human in Thomas’s orbit—what could be an over-serving of tragedy is instead delivered with clarity and nuance. The result is a novel that manages to take on a number of the world’s traumas . . . using the personal travails of a gay man at the dusk of Obama’s America to probe at the nature of what it truly means to know oneself.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“With a single lie, Thomas has lost a career that was more calling than job. [Davison writes] . . . lines like ‘The day smelled of beer, and cigarettes, and the first bloom of Jasmine;’ . . . beautifully atmospheric setting: ‘Her office sparkled. All glass and wood, surrounded by Country Day’s near-choking foliage, wet and green, the drops on the glass and the glass itself created tiny prisms that fractured light from the early morning sun;’. . . [and] lovingly drawn characters . . . this book isn’t all about the ills of society. In fact, it’s mostly about family, and resilience, and love.” —Front Matter, Vermont College of Fine Arts
“What happens when a gay male teacher is accused of molesting his male 4th-grade student by the boy’s parents? In Matthew Clark Davison’s debut novel . . . The real story, the real heat of the book is not the sensationalism of the accusation, but its effects on the entirety of the accused’s life, love, and family.” —Foglifter Magazine
“Davison weaves memories into moments with an organic flow . . . Everything about Doubting Thomas feels natural, from Thomas’ evolving reactions to his eclectic family that surrounds him, to his creeping fear . . . It’s about rebuilding after loss. Thomas’ new life gets more complex by degrees as he deals with family, friends, and the aftermath of accusation, in a world where no one is a hero or a villain.” —The Queer Review
“Matthew Clark Davison’s clear prose highlights Thomas’s external challenges and internal struggles. After his troubling experiences, redemption comes only when Thomas is able to acknowledge and honor his own truths . . . In the riveting novel Doubting Thomas, an ex-teacher learns about the dangers of masking who you are to appease others.” — Forward Reviews
“. . . Doubting Thomas is an absorbing story of a gay man who finally learns to love . . .It is also a disturbing picture of the limits of the liberalism so many people pride themselves on having. Davison . . . has a poet’s gift for striking metaphors.” —New York Journal of Books
“With this important work, Davison achieves something of an anthem for . . . gay . . . Gen Xers as Edmund White and Alan Hollinghurst do . . . for baby boomers, and in that Doubting Thomas feels like it has a place of permanence in LGBTQ+ literature.” —Out In Print
“The prose in Davison’s novel is lucid, sensitive, and gorgeous as he weaves a story of evolving relationships, vacillating self-perception, and deeply entrenched hypocrisy.” —Adam Winograd, ZYZZYVA