Saturday, June 7, 2008

Patron Saint of Butterflies

c. 2008 Bloomsbury

Agnes and Honey have always been friends since they were babies. They went to school together, ate their dinners together...and today, they faced the Regulation Room together...The girls live at Mount Blessing, a religious commune led by Emmanuel and Veronica. The adult members work at outside jobs to help support the commune while the children are schooled and brought up there. When Agnes, her brother Benny, and Honey were born, they were separated from their parents for seven years and raised by people in Emmanuel's inner circle. All of their life, Agnes and Honey have been told how to live in order to achieve greatness, and to always refer to the Book of Saints, given to children when they turn twelve.Agnes fully believes in everything Emmanuel says and does. Honey can no longer stand the pain, degradation, and hypocrisy she has gone through and seen. Honey seems to be the only one who doesn't believe in Emmanuel's miracles, doesn't understand his version of redemption, and can't stand to sit through his sermons. Something has to give...And it does when Benny, Agnes's four year old brother, gets into a serious accident that nearly severs fingers from his hand. After several hours, Emmanuel "cures" his hand through a miracle, but is it a miracle or a sloppy and dirty stitch job? At this point, Nana Pete, grandmother to Agnes and Benny, decides it's time to leave...and take the children with her in order to save them. What happens afterwards may be the downfall of the commune, but not if Agnes, who is aspiring to become the next saint, can save Emmanuel, her parents, and the rest from the police first. In today's current social controversies, this book rings true and close to those following the ordeal of news stories out of Texas. Galante writes true when showing two completely different girls raised in the same environment and how they treat themselves and others according to how far they've been brain-washed. She writes in two voices, both Agnes and Honey, and readers begin to see the delineation of events seen from different eyes. Readers will cheer for and loathe the adult characters that play a sizable role in this book for and about teens. This book will draw readers to it and they will stay riveted until the ending, including the missing pieces in Honey's life that are finally filled in.

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