South Kingstown Public Library Teens

Patron Saint of Butterflies

on January 16, 2009

The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante

The story is told through the alternative views of Agnes and Honey, who live in the religious commune in Connecticut named Mount Blessing. The “True Believers” life a very strict life following the religious teachings of Emmanuel (the commune’s father) and Veronica (the commune’s mother). Kids are separated from their parents when they are 6 months old until they are 7, during which time they live in a separate nursery. Everyone must where blue robes, pray several times a day and never eat red or orange food (it is the symbol of the devil). With no technology or outside contact with the rest of the world, everyone strives to live a life of sainthood. If you commit a sin, or do not follow the rules, Emmanuel takes you to a place noone speaks of, the Regulation Room, where you can be retrained from your evil ways.

Not everyone though is happy with this life. While Agnes is accepting and loyal (even creating self imposed penances for her perceived sins and shortcomings), Honey longs to escape and see what life is really like. When a tragedy strikes and a discovery is made during an unexpected visit from Agnes’s grandmother (Nana Pete), questions arise about the commune’s practices and the safety of the children living there. Honey and Nana Pete are forced to make a decision that will change the lives of everyone involved.

I think that teens will truly enjoy this story. It gives a view of a world that many of them may have heard about in the past few years in the news. As the story unfold and more is learned about the commune, the reader feels equal parts shock, bewilderment and concern about the True Believer’s lives. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down, anxiously holding my breath waiting to see what would happen to the girls and their family.

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