Wednesday, January 07, 2009

As I continue to be behind the times...

This is a book about what happens when you go against everyone in your life, knowingly commit social suicide, and stand up for what you believe in. Even if you aren't really, really sure of it yourself.

At least, it is as I remember it. Most of you read Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande ages ago. I, for some reason, have fallen far, far behind the curve. Whatever. I'm just glad I finally picked it up.

Mena has been ostracized by everyone she's ever cared about. She either no longer exists to them, or they are blatantly rude to her. Even her parents are angry at her. And all she did was follow a gut feeling and do the right thing. She's been hoping that things would slowly just fade away and return to normal, but, as school starts again it's about to get a whole lot worse. Why? Because Mena's life has, up to now revolved around an evangelical (fundamentalist? both?) church, and her science teacher just started a unit on evolution, and simultaneously started a feud with Mena's former church. There's open rebellion in biology.

The discussion of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design is less important than the acceptance of self and independent thought. I think that's actually the real strength of the book - that it never devolves into some pedagogical lecture of religion and/or science and instead is peppered with humor and heart.

I'm a sucker for books that shake teens awake and make them actually look around and SEE the world as more than what someone has told them it looks like. Mena has to do that if she doesn't want to become a total hermit - though she has to battle her instinct to just hide until it goes away. Luckily, she has some very awesome supporting characters to help finesse her into herself.

I would have liked to see more... variation in the behaviors of the church members, but the sheer fun of the book totally makes up for the simple good/bad dynamic. Especially since the "good" characters are so incredibly well developed.

And, as the opening quote by Charles Darwin points out, "Nothing is easier to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life," be you beetle, monkey, or teen girl.


Charlotte said...

I remember this one fondly from the Cybils last year!

Jeanne said...

Ooh, I'm behind the curve too, and it sounds like I've GOT to read this book!

Also I've passed on a badly-worded award to you today at my blog.

Jeanne at Necromancy Never Pays