Monday, August 18, 2008
The Patron Saint of Butterflies
by Cecilia Galante
Honey and Agnes were born within weeks of each other at the religious commune, Mount Blessings, but they couldn't be more different from each other. Honey, an orphan, is constantly trying to rebel from the strict rules that are enforced; whereas, Agnes will do anything in her power, including self mutilation as penance, to become a saint. The commune that they live in has around 260 people in it, and the leaders, Emmanuel (the founder) and Veronica, rule all. When Agnes' grandmother makes a surprise visit to the compound, she discovers a well kept secret and decides to get Honey, Agnes, and Benny (Agnes' little brother) out of there. The results lead Agnes and Honey on a journey to self discovery.
I loved this book. I read it in about a 8 hour block - it would have been in one sitting except my husband wanted to watch a movie with me. It was a touching story of friendship and faith, and it gave (what seemed to be) a realistic view into what life might be like in a sect that is secluded from the world.
The story rotates between Honey and Agnes, and they both have very distinctive personalities. I don't really understand how Honey was able to become as rebellious as she was - she had lived in the secluded world her whole life, but there are a few clues to that. And poor Agnes. I rotated between feeling pity towards her and her brainwashed mind and wanting to strangle her for being so oblivious. Experiencing the "real" world (ie WalMart, McDonalds, etc) through their eyes was kind of an eyeopening experience.
I thought it was interesting that Emmanuel and Veronica, the leaders, were allowed to own TVs and other things of the world that their followers were told only led to temptation. When Honey points out the discrepancy, Agnes waves it off by explaining the leaders are on a higher field away from temptation or something. The discrepancies between the leaders and the followers in religious cults has always interested me - how can someone on the inside not see the problem?
The book did an excellent job of not bashing religion, which is something that could have easily been done given the subject matter.
This book would make a fabulous book club book.
5 out of 5 stars
Posted by KT at 2:14 PM