As with a lot of the books I read, I saw a review of The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante on a blog (I’m sorry, but it was awhile back and I forget where). It is a young adult novel about two girls on a religious commune in Connecticut. It’s a pretty good story.
The book is told, in alternating chapters, by the two main characters, Honey and Agnes. These two girls live on a religious commune called Mount Blessing, where The Believers live. One day, when Agnes’ grandmother comes to visit, she discovers there is abuse rampant throughout the commune. The grandmother, Nana Pete, takes the girls and Agnes’ little brother, Benny, away from the commune. Honey is happy, Agnes is not, Benny has stopped talking since his accident on the commune.
The method of the story telling from the two different perspectives was effective in this book. It was interesting the different takes the two girls had on the same events. It’s always good to be reminded that not everyone perceives things the same way. I also liked hearing the girls frustrations with each other as well as their deep love. While they have been separated from the outside world, they still experience much of the same emtions as a typical adolescent. It was fascinating to see how these feelings played out in a religious setting that was so very strict.
There were some religious issues addressed which I thought were interesting without being preachy or one-sided. I liked seeing the two girls struggle with their beliefs as I remember doing, also, as a young woman. I think many young adult girls would relate to this book on several levels.
I think this book would encourage a good discussion for a book group or even just a mother/daughter pair.
BTW, the inside of the book jacket indicates that the book was inspired by the author’s own experiences. I would love to know more about that. I found her website with her biography where she answers some questions about her writing and how it is related to her life. Check it out!