For those who haven’t read the book, here’s a very brief synopsis: Mena, an Evangelical Christian on the outs with her own Church, for reasons not made clear at first, starts high school as a social outcast, but getting assigned to Ms. Shepard’s biology class starts to change her world.
The book deals with themes of evolution vs. creationism, bullying, and prejudice. I was fascinated with Mena’s character growth in this very readable book. Sadly, I can foresee some Creationist-minded Christians trying to get this book banned from school libraries, which would be a shame, because Brande created characters who are ethical, caring, interesting and realistically normal at the same time. Some other reviewers on GoodReads have complained about the one dimensional characters of the religious kids, when the reality is that the attitudes and behavior displayed by the religious kids makes them seem pretty one dimensional, just as it does in real life when people behave similarly. Having witnessed first hand the mass ignorance and bad behavior displayed by so-called "intelligent" design (aka Creationism) fans toward those who disagree with them, I found the book very realistic in its portrayal of the characters and situation. (And yes, I'm aware that the situation could be reversed as well, but that has not been my experience.)
The part I thought wasn’t fleshed out well was Mena’s relationship with her parents. She obviously loves them, but never seems to question why they wouldn’t support her or show more empathy toward her. Surrounded as she was by hate and vitriol on all sides, I’m surprised she seemed so calm (relatively speaking) and accepting.
*This post was originally published June 23, 2013