Through The Strait Gates

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“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” -Matthew 7:14

Guomen, 過門/过门, meaning marriage in Chinese. If explained literally, it means going past the gates/door-a reference to the Bible(see above).

“Through the Strait Gates”: to me, it’s the best way to explain it.

The gate’s narrow, the road small for them.

Their past and future interwoven into a tangled, messed up web.

Thirteen years of sour and bittersweet memories. And seven years in between that washed out everything they had like water, leaving only stark, plain, throbbing dullness.

Associated Names
One entry per line
Guomen
过门
過門
Related Series
Dage (Shared Universe)
Recommendations
A Certain Someone (5)
Give Me A Hug (4)
SAYE (3)
After Our Divorce, I Still Wore Your Jacket (2)
Mint-Stained Shirt (2)
Slow-Witted (2)
Recommendation Lists
  1. romance en school/campus
  2. (BL) mature
  3. Slice of Life Purgatory
  4. stuff i wanna read
  5. The Best Romance

Latest Release

Date Group Release
03/04/20 bleachedfish c18
10/15/19 bleachedfish c17
08/26/19 bleachedfish c16
08/15/19 bleachedfish c15
08/15/19 bleachedfish c14
08/15/19 bleachedfish c13
08/15/19 bleachedfish c12
08/15/19 bleachedfish c11
08/15/19 bleachedfish c10
08/15/19 bleachedfish c9
08/15/19 bleachedfish c8
08/15/19 bleachedfish c7
08/15/19 bleachedfish c6
08/15/19 bleachedfish c5
08/15/19 bleachedfish c4
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LaisseSeul
LaisseSeul rated it
December 21, 2020
Status: c21
[Read further for the follow-up]

12/31/20

I LOVE PRIEST AND THEIR WORKS BUT I WON'T LET THEIR RACIST REMARK SLIDE.

... more>> Specificslly on chapter 21 when Xu Xilin and his mother were talking:

"...I'm so tired. Ai, you better study hard, graduate faster and start earning money for your mum."

Xu Xilin's mouth was full of sweet empty promises. "No problem. I'll buy you an island just for you to park your yacht and hire two hundred plus Filipino maids. Fifty to help you raise your dog, fifty to carry you everywhere, another hundred to wait upon you from dawn to dusk, all in a line at your door waiting to greet you everyday."

AS A FILIPINO, I FIND THIS REALLY OFFENSIVE. FOR WHAT REASON DO THEY HAVE TO SPECIFICALLT NAME IT "FILIPINO MAIDS" WHEN THEY COULD'VE JUST STATED IT WITHOUT MENTIONING 'FILIPINO'. IT WAS VERY UNNECESSARY.

I'M HURT AND DISAPPOINTED. IT REALLY CAUGHT ME OFF GUARD KNOWING THIS HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHINESE AUTHORS.

12/31/20

It's quite unfortunate not to reply directly but I can't sit still. I've just red the responses to my review and I can't help but be taken back by their tones. Reading your indirect replies really made me feel small and sad. Especially those from who claim they were Filipinos and say that there's nothinf wrong with it.

First of all, you're not the subject of such remark and I understand the empathy gap. However, to be a an overseas maid is not something to be glorified. Cases of abuse occur. Being forced to be away from their family just so they could earn money. My point is that the character used the terms "Filipino Maids" followed by specific numbers of allocation for specific tasks. Reading those, I felt like he's obtaining s*aves. You may think I'm overreacting but I genuinely felt offended and belittled. Showing these remarks to my family and friends, they thought the same. They all uttered the same "Wow".

You may not know but there's a lowkey strife between China and the Philippines. One of our islands was STOLEN, CLAIMED and OCCUPIED. Chinese and Filipinos share quite 'peaceful' relationship on the surface but you do not know that even in our own country, we're all under their feet. They're known to be bosses and we're always the 'helpers'. Even the largest corporations here in our country are led by Chinese.

But knowing that you're under the soles of someone is different from actual hearing/those remarks from directly from them.

How would you feel if someone you're sharing an awkward relationship with poked at your insecurities?

Also, philosophically, works of fiction are real. Psychologically, regardless of one's way, what you write and what you say contain underlying motives.

Nevertheless, I'd still continue loving Chinese literature but I can't just accept this. This will be my last time visiting Priest's works and this will be my last time enganging with this issue. <<less
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dhyll
dhyll rated it
March 6, 2021
Status: --
This has been on my reading list for so long and I suddenly had the urge to read this so I did. And I have no regrets. I read some reviews and I got to know the context of that "filipino maid" line. As a filipino, I wasn't offended because what's wrong with being a maid? I get that some people won't take being stereotyped lightly but I advise y'all to look at it in another context. Anyway other than that, I love this very much. I can't describe how... more>> well written this novel is but it's really good. <<less
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darkelf01
darkelf01 rated it
February 21, 2021
Status: c21
Priest's works are usually good, but this is a nutjob. It would've been fine if the author didn't purposefully named a certain country.

For those who defended the author, I'd ask if you're okay with reading another example of a toxic mentality with a bucketfull case of superior complex and casual racism?

No matter how strong the plot is, I can't like something that casually disrespect a human being's value.

I've encountered many novels by CN authors who showed the same casual trampling of certain nationalities. The same is also true in real... more>> life. There are many, many examples of the ugliness of that mentality out there, as if other than the Chinese, the rest of the humanity are the cannon fodders to their MC aura.

Dropped. <<less
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moroposquare
moroposquare rated it
September 2, 2020
Status: Completed
This is my first time writing review on NU bcs I find it absolutely unfair for people to view this page look at the meagre stars and missing out this masterpiece. I have read quite a few Priest's novels (8 so far including Guomen) but I was really shocked (in a good way) when I read this because I wouldn't think that someone who's used to write complicated plot would be able to write slice-of-life masterfully as well.

The story starts with Dou Xun and Xu Xilin meeting again after a... more>> few years the former spent abroad.

[This would be the thirteenth year since he knew Dou Xun. Once, they had been together; then, they had broken up. Once, they had wanted to spend their whole lives together; then, they had dropped all contact with each other. ]

Dou Xun and Xu Xilin met when they were in high school where Dou Xun was a recently transferred student in their class. Long story short, they didn't get along at school. One day, Xu Xilin's godmother who was facing a custody battle with her ex-husband over her estranged son asked for a favour from Xu Xilin's family to let her son stay with them as she & her ex worked the settlement between them.

Xu Xilin was a rather chill kid so he was fine with the arrangement... until he knows that it was actually Dou Xun, the stuck-up lone wolf new kid. So from that day onwards, Dou Xun was a part of Xu Xilin's family.

This novel touches on a lot of great issues: career-minded single mother who provides for her family until she forgot to take care of herself, abandoned kid in the midst of divorce settlement, internalized h*mophobia (yes, there's no glossing over this matter, Priest writes this issue in clear cut), a sudden loss of adolescent and the responsibility it came with - THERE'S SO MANY GREAT LIFE ISSUES that were touched in this novel.

Update: Completed with full TL!

Spoiler

As an adult reading the past events unfold in a sad spiral, is so hurtful bcs now you know better that there are some things that you can let slide but when you are younger you tend to let these things ruin you. But they grew up, not as what they expected but the best that they can be and you can read their POV where the world has tempered them but they are still the kids you love in the flashback.

Priest's writing and chai's TL brings the best out of Guomen, so many quotes that bring me to tears. In fact after finishing Book 2, I cried as I went to sleep.

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Achiless
Achiless rated it
October 9, 2020
Status: Completed
Sometimes, if only one factor in the past were to differ, you'd have a different life today. This is a story about decisions and change. I've read 3 books of Priest before this and dropped them all, and thank god I still decided to give this a chance.

This story is truly one of a kind. I've reviewed lots of stories to be real, but this one tops them all. The h*mophobia is very realistic, but isn't the most outstanding part. Every writer can put some real h*mophobia into their story,... more>> Priest just deserves an honourable mention for choosing to do so. What this story really stands out with is how real the whole fictional world is.

This is the story about two imperfect protagonists and their imperfect side characters. You might say: well, which character isn't imperfect these days? But the truth is, most imperfections are often romantised, only existing to add to how amazing the characters are while acting as if they're there to make the characters more realistic. That isn't the case with these characters. Their flaws are true, ugly flaws. They're no faceslap/dogblood characters. Sometimes they'll make such s*upid decisions that'll only harm themselves, but you can't blame them cause that's just how people are. Sometimes you just won't be able to make the right decision.

However, they aren't characters you won't be able to stand nor characters you will hate. Because as you read you'll realise that they're just you everyday people. It's as if Priest randomly selected two people in her little world and decided to record their story. What I love especially about their relationship is that it isn't an innocent and selfless relationship, but a selfish one. One part that isn't so realistic would be the amount of misfortunes that keep on happening. However, Priest did an amazing job convincing us that these characters simply have the extra misfortune to have so much misfortune around them. They aren't events orchestrated to force character development, but events that occurred because they just do, and it happened to result in character development.

Every side character has a little back story which all aid to the 3D feel of the story. They don't only exist when the protagonists needs some help or development, but are characters with their own lifes who happen to be part of the protagonists' environment.

The way priest choose to write is is amazing: like a memory. That gives of that nostalgic feel, and once you're truly immersed in their youth the author will remind us that this all is actually no longer there. You see everything change with the characters, and the characters might even forget things you read just a few chapters ago. Priest did something genius with this.

Now when such a writer makes a small mistake, it'd have a big impact on the reader. Priest is sometimes unable to connect feelings with actions properly. It took me 30 chapter to get the ML's character. Also, she sometimes skip through things where she should've eleborated more on.

Still overall, it's an amazing book. The little faults above are covered by the realness, themes and story telling. <<less
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Mochibite
Mochibite rated it
July 10, 2021
Status: Completed
"In this world that was free, democratic, irreverent, rude; where public opinion can run a person's life... where even between countries, there were attempts to assimilate and to pervade through the use of ideologies, he could not go through a narrow door in the same way he would walk on a wide open road"

I think this quote does a great job of representing a part of the amazing story that is Guomen. The tone of the story, the feelings of our MC Xu Xilin, the beautiful writing of Priest and... more>> the beautiful translation of Chai, and a reference to the title of the novel are all laid out.

Having read 4 of Priest's stories prior to this I can confidently say this is my favorite novel of hers so far, and that I have never connected more deeply with a story than this. It doesn't matter where you live, what you have experienced, who you are; there is someone or something in Guomen that you can find a shadow of yourself and your life in. This is an incredibly realistic novel, sometimes painfully so, and yet that is also the beauty of this novel. The characters are ordinary people, the plot is simple and straightforward, and the romance is more heavily featured compared to other works of Priest because the love story between Xu Xilin and Dou Xun intertwines deeply with their 13 year life story and journey.

MC Xu Xilin feels so real he's about to leap out of the pages. He's a wonderful character and person who's flawed and extremely human. Seeing him grow from a popular carefree high schooler to a smooth-talking, experienced businessman was incredible and painful. He is someone you can see yourself in, someone you want to be friends with. His sensitivity to the feelings of others is what makes him so likeable, makes him able to crack open Dou Xun's shell, but it also causes him to hold back and self-internalize. While he may seem like a careless person, deep down he carefully thinks about all events and solutions. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!

While you may want to smack Dou Xun Dou Xian'er at times, you'll also want to hug and cuddle him twice as much. He's stubborn and loyal, independent yet craving affection that he doesn't even realize at first. When he struggles with words and socializing you feel that so hard because chances are you've been there before. His feelings are so INTENSE that you can feel their warmth through the screen, yet they can also be a heavy burden that burns you as experienced by Xu Xilin. This kind of love is commonly seen in danmei novels, the kind of all-consuming possessive type that seems amazing. Guomen breaks down the trope and fully shows readers the suffocation the receiver can feel from this love as well as the pain the giver feels.

The love between Xu Xilin and Dou Xun progresses so naturally, and their relationship feels so incredibly realistic as it continues to morph. I'd say their love develops from a burning flame to a steady campfire as they both mature and grow up. One thing I love is that even when they get together, they still have fights and arguments. Just because they've entered a relationship doesn't magically make their personalities meld together perfectly. These fights happen for legitimate reasons, they're not just there for drama. You can love someone and still want to slam the door in their face XD.

Spoiler

In the beginning it's always Xu Xilin giving in and trying to reach a resolution. He's the one who's better at relationships and Dou Xun was super stubborn when he was young. Even when they made up after fights they never truly resolved the problem. I think that's one of the reasons why the breakup was inevitable among other things. When they later reconcile, it's clear how much Dou Xun has matured and their relationship just makes you melt ahhhhh.

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All the side characters feel like real people as well, and you come to love so many of them. Xu Jin is the coolest mom ever and I've got so much respect for her!! She's funny, smart, capable, and hard-working. She single-handedly supported the entire family and gave Xu Xilin a carefree childhood.

Spoiler

I was so sad when she suddenly passed away T_T. Just like in life, your loved ones can pass away without warning. She worked so hard and never had time for herself.

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Grandma was amazing as well, a truly kind and sophisticated lady! She was brave, considerate and fan-freaking-tastic all in one woman. Thank you Priest for writing women of all ages who feel human <3. Shoutouts to Auntie Du, Song-ge, Shuai Shuai and the misfit squad :').

There are so many themes and ideas in this book that Priest isn't afraid to tackle and explore. The uncomfortable ones, the feelings and emotions we hide deep within ourselves, they're all brought to the surface. Internalized h*mophobia and the pressures of peers and society are an important part of the story. Our main characters will struggle with these problems and it may be easy to judge them except their entire thought process is laid out. Small moments like struggling to wake up in the early morning, that one teacher who cares but in a harsh way are all included. Thankfully I never had to take the nightmare known as gaokao, but that pre-exam anxiety and cramming? Felt that hard. Just like life, the novel keeps chugging along even when our characters feel sad or want to stop. You can't hide from growing up and you can't stop time. The journey can be twisty but you will always have someone by your side. In conclusion to the long rambling and multiple mentions of realism, PLEASE READ GUOMEN XD!

Lastly, there is the issue of the racist comment in the book. I do think it was completely unnecessary and why it had to be in there I have no idea. Casual or not so casual racism towards non-Han minorities or other nationalities is unfortunately a pretty prevalent occurrence in not just danmei but Chinese novels (at least in the ones I've read). Whether that means you stop reading the novel or continue on is up to you.

Still I would like to thank Priest for writing such a personal and touching novel! And a giant thank you to the translators bleachedfish and chai for your amazing work!! Sending love~ <<less
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SearraLeslie
SearraLeslie rated it
September 13, 2020
Status: Completed
This is one of those stories where the degree of the sadness that the reader perceives will depend on one’s own personal experience.

The story-telling flows very fluently. Xu Xilin’s experiences, wishes and problems are described in a way that touches my heart very deeply in a personal level. Although I love this novel so much, after I finished reading it, I could not re-read it the second time because some parts were so sad that they became hard to read.

This is basically a slice of life that tells about school,... more>> friendship, family, romance, work, dreams - all the hardships and joys one encounters in life. Some parts of the story may feel cliched. Nevertheless, the engaging story-telling and wonderful personalities of the characters make up for the cliche parts. <<less
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PeonyDancer
PeonyDancer rated it
November 10, 2021
Status: --
I'm writing this to simply say - please don't disregard this book based on the reviews marking it 1/5 because of racism. Reading Priest's other works, you find that none of them have racism - but which books do? Only the ones that are set in the current century of the real world. If you read, for example, Priest's novel Can Ci Pin, you'll find a myriad of characters coming from various ethnic backgrounds: obviously, since it's set in a future time period, where humans have got bigger problems than... more>> racial divides.

Racism is real. And every culture, country, has its own form of racism towards particular people groups. And unfortunately, it's a normal part of life. Speaking from my own life, people make throwaway comments about people from certain countries being not as privileged as people from ours, and mocking the idiosyncrasies of certain ethnicities. I'm not saying it's right - I'm saying we don't live in a perfect world where everyone thinks wonderfully of each other. To write like that about the world, would be dishonest and would totally coat over the real issues of prejudice that people face.

I personally, do not take offense when I see these sorts of comments in novels, whether its towards people of my ethnicity or not. I think it's perfectly fine, and normal for Priest to insert 'casual racism' - after all, this novel is steeped in modern-day reality, and even comments on important issues like domestic violence, toxic masculinity and femininity, bullying, unfair education systems, stigma towards divorcees and the plight of same-s*x couples. I hope you'll give this book a chance, and enjoy it nonetheless (^o^) /<3

MOVING ONTO MY ACTUAL REVIEW: Priest did a FANTASTIC job of realistically portraying someone wrestling with their sexuality. Like:

Spoiler

'And today, he realized that there was something he was unable to achieve—he wanted Dou Xun but he didn't want to be gay.'

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and

Spoiler

At the same time, following his usual way of thinking, Xu Xilin again thought of the uncountable difficulties that lay ahead, of the pointed fingers he had endured more than ten years ago, of the labels like "freak, " "AIDS, " "Hepatitis B" and "reform camp inmate" that he would not be able to peel off for the rest of his life.

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and

Spoiler

"For a while, he felt happy, but it was followed by a bout of worry. His habit of worrying was surfacing again and he started to think about things far in the future. If the two of them continue to go down this way, what will they do when they reach the age where other people got married and had kids? What would happen when Uncle Dou and his godmother found out? If either one of them had a change of heart and the relationship could not last, how would they continue to interact with each other in the future?

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Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And the conclusion?

Every day that we can be together is one more day I can spend loving him. <<less
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stardustmist
stardustmist rated it
September 16, 2020
Status: Completed
I have been trying to read as many Priest's books as possible, this was on my reading list, but I was hesitant. After this novel was completely translated, I had to read it. And I think I regret it not reading earlier.

Slice of life, the genre is quite unappealing to me. I have read a few and got bored in the middle. If the novel is tagged as slice of life, I stay far away from them. That's why I was hesitant to read this, but the way Priest wrote... more>> this novel, I was attracted and never got bored with the storyline nor the characters.

The MC, Xu Xilin, is a cheerful and easy going student at first. He's extroverted and social, he acts like a peacemaker, he's indulgent to his close friends and family. You can see his character development from an ignorant adolescent who thinks he can achieve anything in this world to a successful adult who went through thick and thin, understanding how life truly works. His success didn't come to him served on a platter; he worked day and night, through the cold winters, skipping his meals or surviving on ramen, doing anything and everything he can think of.

The ML, Dou Xun, has always been neglected, from his parents to his classmates, he's very antisocial and lonely. He's the type to scar others with his sharp tongue, the only times he knows about deep emotions are through Xu Xilin. It's no wonder that he would get super attached, on the verge of throwing everything aside to be his beloved. He grows up from trying to monopolize Xu Xilin to understanding his unspoken words, reading between the lines and facial expressions.

Both of them have come a long way, from hiding their difficulties to sharing their worries and without miscommunication.

Plot: 100 stars

Characters: 1000 stars

Main CP: 10000 stars

THEY ARE MARRIED AND HAVE A SON!!!! (Yes, it's a grey parrot haha)

Guomen isn't just about how two men find love with each other again. There are so many issues Priest writes about. There's Xu Jin who's a career driven woman and does everything to give her mom and son a pampered life. There are Dou Xun's parents, who abandoned him and are just on the legal formalities. Priest also writes about how people who are at the top are both money-hungry and bullies. There's Cai Jing, who worked hard for his exams, but ended up lost due to his own desperation.

When Xu Xilin said that he wanted to have Dou Xun, but he didn't want to be gay. It talked about internalized h*mophobia and how he was scared of others talking behind him. He was paranoid about others knowing he was different and he loved a man.

The novel is so realistically written that it made my heart hurt so much, even now I can't stop thinking about them. Everything about this novel is worth crying over, the second book is called "Onions" and I think it's very much suited. I won't ever be able to read it again, it was THAT painful.

I loved this novel so much, it made me laugh, cry, made my heart flutter and then thrashed it into pieces. I highly recommend if you can handle the knives. It's a gem (most of Priest's novels are). The translations are amazing, Chai did an amazing job. Thank you so much for your hard work!!! Please read this beautiful novel and give lots of love to Dou Xun and Xu Xilin~ <<less
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moon-bunnies
moon-bunnies rated it
March 30, 2022
Status: Completed
I adore this novel, so, so much.

To hell with all the other reviews that complain about guomen being too depressing. Who wants another boring, formulaic danmei novel? There's an abundance of overpowered MC + ten inch thick plot armors out there, as well as a whole factory of painfully superficial, dewy-skinned pretty boys. To write something against the commercial grain, however, takes real spunk. Plus, brownie points to Priest for not following common sexist troupes, and giving us three dimensional female characters who aren't used as convenient plot devices.

Is the... more>> comment about filipino workers questionable and racist? 100%. But in context with China's racial intolerance in the white-collar workforce & influx of Southeast Asian workers in the domestic cleaning industry, it's not a shocking line. Rather, it points to a general societal problem that has yet to be resolved. Either way, to project our own progressive social standards onto a piece of fiction of another culture and judge it "cancellable" is juvenile. There'd be way too many books to burn in the classic literature canon if that was the case.

As for the story itself, it is poignantly sensitive and raw. Priest created a beautiful portrait of the adolescent mind, and patiently explored the intricacies of teenage insecurities, anxieties, and traumas. Guomen is still a very romantic story imo, despite its moments of melancholy and tragedy, because it shows two characters who are propelled by love and a desire to change for each other's futures.

The prose is note-worthy as well, full of literary allusions and vivid imageries. I hope an English publisher will discover this some day, and provide a professional translation as well as a physical copy. I'd order a copy immediately lol. <<less
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Marichi
Marichi
September 29, 2021
Status: --
Racism is not something that can be excused even more when that race is specifically mentioned. Remember that books in one way or another reflect the author's perspective on certain topics. In western culture this kind of racism will not be excused and the author will be blasted on social media.

Even solo leveling was not excused with racism. In the novel/manhwa you wont get unless you know the history between the author's motherland and that certain country.
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dee_ism
dee_ism rated it
October 8, 2020
Status: Completed
Very beautifully written.

I usually don't like high school story, but I love this one.
I have yeah or meh about Priest's stories, but I love this one.

First of all, let's give applause to an amazing woman, Xu Jin. She is incredible.

What I like the most about this story is how those characters grow, from clueless brat to sensible young man, after very much tribulation.
Their internal struggles feel so real and realistic. I truly can feel their pain of growing up to adult world, relate so much.
Not to mention... more>> their additional baggage regarding their sexuality in front of society. Thanks God they can pull it through together :) <<less
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Jen Jen
Jen Jen rated it
September 18, 2020
Status: Completed
I'm writing this review as an avid reader of slice of life genre.

I'm in my 20s, so I am always a little reluctant over reading teen romance, but as it was by PRIEST, yes she is my favourite author, I decided to give it a go...

I knew it will be good cause the author is exceptionally well with any genre she tries to write, but this series went beyond my expectations.

... more>> I would like to point out why it is a must read:

1. The most realistic slice of life genre novel I ever read! Everything feels too real. There are times you'll find your own self being a part of this story.

2. The best representation of a gay relationship in Asian setting! I have read a dozen of western YA LGBTQ+ novels, but as an Asian, I could never relate to any. But this one, yes!! It is really the perfect choice if you want to see the real thing. Not just western, but even most of the Asian medias like thai drama, manga and anime failed me, I never found any as realistic as Guomen.

3. It is not just a love story!!

It is much more than that, it is about family, friendship and finding your own self. Our MC here goes through ups and down of life in every single way. You'll come to know more as you read it.

4. The writing style is the best!

Well As you know already how good of an author priest is. It is so fluid and poetic that I could never stop reading it for even once. Till date, I read the whole novel twice, and some more than 30+ chapters even 3-4 times, that's how much I loved it.

Moreover, this novel is perfectly balanced between angst and other factors, nothing is over-the-top. And yes, we get a HAPPY ENDING.

Overall, being a slice of live fan, this is the best deal for you. But if sol is not your cup of tea, even then you can give it a try as many people who claimed to not like reading sol eventually loved it too much in my reading circle! <<less
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momorang
momorang
April 29, 2021
Status: Completed
This novel never fails to make me cry and make me question my future. It could be one of Priest's best works up to date, since this novel's plot is something that you could see around you. The plot is very normal, but the way Priest executed it, the way she wrote it, the way she conveyed the feelings of the characters is just chef's kiss. This made me think about my future, as well as my fears and regrets. If you are a young adult (maybe somewhere near graduating... more>> highschool) or an adult, you will appreciate this novel. And about the criticisms that the novel received because of the line with "Filipino maids", I agree that it is off-putting as a Filipino, yet here are thoughts about it: (1) Being a maid is not something to be ashamed or angry about, it is a very honorable job. (2) That one line doesn't compromise the quality of the novel. If you read the whole thing, it's a really good novel that is enough to dry your eyes for a month. Although I understand that it implies that Filipinos are only fit to be 'maids', but does it compromise or make the novel way worse? It doesn't. That one line is controversial but we should have a separate discussion about it.

Over all, Guomen is a really interesting, really painful, and really heartfelt novel made by Priest. If I could give a rating of 11/5, I really would've. <<less
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CynicalStrawberry25
CynicalStrawberry25 rated it
May 11, 2021
Status: Completed
After reading to chapter 37:

Normally I'd finish reading to write a review but I couldn't help but write one now, even though it's fully translated.

I've read several BL highschool romances. Most of them involve school tyrant OP leads, whether in studying or fighting. However, in Guomen, while the leads are smart, they're ordinary enough to be real people. Their problems are realistic. It's true that the characters in most high school BL novels face problems, and some of the problems are lighter and heavier than in Guomen.

But the way Priest... more>> writes... the problems aren't over dramatically presented, nor are the understated or written off with the belief that the OP leads can easily solve them. Real life problems are like that, they're not over dramatic, life still goes on and neither are the inconsequential.

And reading Guomen, reading the main lead forced to grow up from a spoiled happy child, it really spoke to me. I'm just as spoiled as the lead and Guomen feels like a wakeup call or a reminder of what I've always known: put in the same situation as the characters I'd probably struggle in the same ways and make similar choices. I'd have those same problems if something like that happened in my life. Guomen has this amazing realism and as another review here said, you could see those as real, ordinary people.

Thus far it's also been a bit different from Priest's other works which tell stories of genius generals and princes, powerful martial artists, rich presidents, and generally people with more than just their own lives on their shoulders, they usually have to save a kingdom, world, city, or something of that ilk. But in Guomen, these are ordinary boys shouldering the weight of no one but their own lives just as it is for every one of us in the real world. And this displayed through Priest's amazing craftsmanship and story writing is what truly makes this a masterpiece. I was reluctant to read this before since it didn't contain many of the existing superficial elements I come to BL for. But, I can't say I regret it.

After finishing it:

I second everything I said earlier. <<less
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Icycle
Icycle rated it
September 22, 2020
Status: Completed
5 stars. Tenderly written; it was an emotional read. Love in general is tough. Gay love in society? In China? The odds are against it. A well-done coming of age story. Nothing racy in the book, FYI.
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vhiffy
vhiffy rated it
September 17, 2020
Status: Completed
4.8 stars

Another masterpiece from Priest. I really like this author's style of writing. Realistic, expressive and nuanced at the same time. They can take you from a giggling high to a heart-wrenching low. Thank god they write happy endings. If not for the poignant sweetness at the end, I wouldn't be able to read their books. It hits too hard sometimes.

... more>>
Spoiler

I took away some stars for the accident that happened towards the end. I feel like a lot of authors use the "in an almost fatal accident" to quickly resolve those characters who would otherwise get in the way of a perfect happy ending with a bow on the top. Also, get that last bit of tears squeezed out from an already dehydrated reader, before opening up a grand vista to a happily ever after. It was not necessary in my opinion.

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Read it! It's excellent! It's a happy ending (if you're shy of reading books with not so happy endings, like me) ! <<less
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ricoerrr
ricoerrr rated it
March 27, 2022
Status: c1
characters

mc: xu xilin

ml: dou xun

summary: ... more>>
Spoiler

coming of age story where MC and ML fall in love during their high school/university days but circumstances and differing priorities pushes them apart for nearly a decade. They meet again after they've each gone through the ups and downs of adulthood and both matured miles beyond the childish temperaments from when they first started dating. Younger ML was outlandish in his affections and oftentimes overbearing; whereas younger MC had difficulty accepting the fact that he's gay and he often see-saws between loving ML and worrying about its implications. After the time-skip, they reconcile. ML learns to slow down and go at mc's pace, and MC learns to accept himself and ML wholeheartedly. They are much more content now, and they begin a new chapter of their lives together again now that their relationship stood on sturdier grounds.

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thoughts

this had an iron grip on my heart and lord knows how many times the story threw it to the ground and stomped on it. Dou xun is so pure and he was just trying his best but unfortunately he has trouble understanding people especially equally stubborn people like xu xilin. A lot of the times he was trying to overcompensate for his shortcomings but in the end what started as cute and endearing little habits became what wore their relationship down. They have vastly different views about their future as a couple and career-wise, and this drove a wedge between them during a very critical time when they were still figuring out a purpose and direction in life. Their break up was absolutely devastating; both parties were unwilling but it had to be done :' ( <<less
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Tonika_Ao
Tonika_Ao rated it
December 17, 2021
Status: Completed
When you start a story by Priest it's like opening a brand new puzzle with a thousand pieces that are masterfully connected as the story takes form to create in the end a complex and beautiful picture. From compelling social and political issues to space utopias and steampunk technology, there is no theme or genre that escapes her careful eye.

Her style is famous-or notorious, depending on your tastes-for the labyrinth-like formation of her plot that is many times developed at the expense of intimacy and romance between the protagonists. That,... more>> however, is irrelevant to Priest's capability of writing character-driven stories and that is most evident on "Guomen".

This slice-of-life story, so much shorter than the favourites "Mo Du" and "Sha po lang", is an emotional portrayal of the daily lives of two Chinese boys in the early 2000s and their tumultuous journey to adulthood. While watching Dou Xun and Xu Xilin gradually bond and experience life, we are able to explore themes such as h*mophobia, poverty, societal stereotypes and expectations, unconventional family-forms and early death. One of the most striking features of the novel, however, is it's painful honesty.

Priest holds her scalpel and with almost surgical precision presents us the anatomy of two souls in flowing and witty prose; the one being incredibly sensitive to others emotions is a natural extrovert with aspirations to make something of himself, but, at the same time, has difficulty coming to terms with his sexuality, as he is initially bounded by the absurd stigma. His partner, on the other hand, has his brilliance and cold logic as the only weapon against parents who are shallow and vain and a society he considers rotten, plain and, therefore, rejects.

Our two MCs evolve as the years pass, along with the people beside them, in order to reach a satisfying level of personal and interpersonal agility and honesty. The road to get there is th**ny, painful and presented in such a blunt and raw way that you can visualize Priest sneering in the face of your expectations and the norm of easy romance.

I read "Guomen" looking for a different taste after "Mo Du" and "Sha po lang" overworked the engines of my brain. If you decide to go for it you will be relieved by the fluidity of the prose, but you should prepare yourselves for emotional strain, which proves even more rewarding than the rosy interactions of smitten characters. After all, any choice by this author is bound to be passing through a narrow gate... <<less
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Cocole
Cocole rated it
January 11, 2021
Status: Completed
A coming of age story that is very well written. Each word and sentence carries with it meaning that can only be sensed through the lens and filter of the experience of the reader. I haven’t laughed so hard and cried so miserably reading a novel for such a long time. The CP and the side characters’ lives reminds me of my own growing up. Although our issues were different but our thought process were the same. Issues that I thought were so difficult to overcome, so important seems ‘eh’... more>> many years later. Thank you so much author and the wonderful translation work. Really appreciate all their hard work and dedication. Love ❤️ <<less
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