Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.
Synopsis from Goodreads
**Quick warning: you very much need to have a sense of humor about religion to enjoy this book. If you don’t feel comfortable laughing at it, I don’t think this book is for you.**
As someone who went to Catholic school for all of her life, I often have questions of about my religion, about things that the Catholic schools and the church teaches, and about whether any of it was true or should be believes. I love the the fact that Katie Henry does not shy away from asking those same questions. And honestly, I thought this book was brilliant because it brings those questions to the forefront and tries to answer them with kindness and clarity. I don't know why it took me so long to read this book, but I'm really happy I did!
It's Not About Converting People To or Away from Religion
One of the best things about this book is that it's not a rant either for or against organized religion. While it's easy to assume that this would be an attempt to show all the flaws with the Catholic Church, Henry is smart to bring in the character of Lucy -- a teen who fully believes in the Church and Christianity and is quick to defend and explain it. Michael's opinions on the prejudices and problems within the Church are valid (in my opinion), and it's wonderful to have him and Lucy having conversations about why these things are happening instead of this book being one massive rant about how religion is evil. Henry strikes a great balance between believers (of many faiths) and our non-believing narrator. This book was made all the better because of the different religions and beliefs discussed throughout and it's message is one of acceptance.
Interesting Family Dynamics
We bounce between Michael's family life, where he is justifiably angry with how often his life is uprooted for his father's job, and Lucy's life, where she is essentially the acting mother to her younger brothers but never complains, and both stories drew me in. I wanted to know how Michael and his father would resolve the tension between them (or if they ever would) and if Lucy's mom was going to come back into the picture at any point. (Mini spoiler here) While we don't get a resolution for Lucy, I was really happy that Michael and his father finally found a way to speak and hear each other. It a long road to before they can fully understand each other, but I felt like we got to see the beginning of a better relationship between them.
Secondary Characters Are Relatively Unknown
With the exception of Lucy (who some may argue is a primary character), none of the other Heretics are expanded upon. They are simply add-on's to the group with apparently one-word monikers to describe them: Ari is Jewish and gay, Eden is a pagan, and Max wants to wear capes. That's almost entirely the extent of what we learn about them, which is incredibly disappointing because they all seem like they have so much more to share! Each of their family lives are in a different state of flux, but the narrator spends minimal time with them one-on-one, so we are really just given enough information to know that they are all struggling in some aspect of their lives and have family that don't fully understand them. I loved all the Heretics and really wanted to get to know them better.
I thought this book was well-written (if a bit light at times) with many funny moments where I was literally laughing out loud...and than would force my husband to listen as I read it out loud to him. Again, I'd only recommend this to readers who are open to laughing at religion, because this book definitely pokes at it a lot. That said, Heretics Anonymous reminds us that tolerance and acceptance are the most important things we can offer ourselves and others, which is why this will be a book that I am excited to recommend.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
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Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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2020 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 20 books toward her goal of 85 books.
2019 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 5 books toward her goal of 90 books.
2018 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has completed her goal of reading 80 books in 2018!
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