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.
It’s a lot to fit into one narrative, but Davison wisely allows the heady stuff to marinate in the form of the impressively authentic, familiar conversations ... Sharply probing at the insular logic of progressive privilege ... Thanks to the care Davison pays to his characters — each one a fully realized, thinking human in Thomas’ orbit — what could be an overserving 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 without ever being swallowed whole, instead 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.
Davison weaves memories into moments with an organic flow...Thomas struggles to live in the moment, and the prose mimics this with seamless ease. Everything about Doubting Thomas feels natural, from Thomas’ evolving reactions to his eclectic family that surrounds him, to his creeping fear of less liberal strangers ... Some may struggle with this being the story of a relatively rich, white, gay man in liberal America, but in a way that’s the point. Privilege isn’t binary, it’s a matter of degrees, and having it will not insulate you from harsh realities. If the last four years have taught us nothing, it’s that our safety net is always in peril ... a compelling contemporary tale about seeing the world clearly that felt instantly relatable.
The betrayal, sordid gossip, misunderstandings, and anger are all here, and could all easily slip into the melodrama of a Lifetime movie, but Davison wisely steers clear of that; the book is not about the scandal and injustice of this singular event. It doesn’t end when the case is settled – the case is settled in the first half of the book. This novel is about the ripples an event, really more of a hate crime, has on the entire life of its victim ... Davison’s other work often deals with these streams of consciousness. Davison follows moments of trauma outward in every direction, finding all the casualties, bystanders or not. It works especially well in the long form of a novel.