Thursday, November 18, 2010
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
Agnes, her brother Benny and their parents live in Mount Blessing a religious commune led by Emmanuel. Agnes used to have fun like most other children. But when she turned 12 and received her book of "The Saints Way" she put aside having fun and started working on becoming perfect like the saints.
Honey is Agnes' best friend. Her mother left her at the commune when she was just a baby. All that she has of her mother's is a cat figurine that she carries around with her. Honey hates the commune. She hates Emmanuel and she hates all of the rules that they are made to follow. Honey is the one that usually gets herself and Agnes into trouble and causes them to have to visit the "Regulation Room."
The Regulation Room is a room that the Believers are sent to when they do something that is against the rules that Emmanuel has created for the commune. Nobody talks about the Regulation Room. But most of the Believers have been subjected to the discipline that is carried out in the room.
Agnes' grandmother Pete shows up unexpectedly for a visit. When she sees the results of the discipline that Honey and Agnes had most recently been subjected to, she is determined to get Agnes, Benny and Honey out of the commune.
Honey is thrilled to be leaving the commune. Agnes wants to go back. She is afraid of the consequences of leaving the commune. After all there is nothing bad going on there. Emmanuel is just trying to make them better believers. This puts a huge strain on Agnes and Honey's relationship. After meeting her father's sister, Agnes finds that there are still more secrets that Emmanuel and her family have held from them.
I didn't want to put this book down! It was heart-breaking reading about the abuse that the children are put through on the commune. I got angry at how gullible people are to a charismatic leader. I wanted to stand up and cheer when Nana Pete took Agnes, Benny and Honey out of the commune. I wanted to shake Agnes out of her brain-washed thinking! I loved Honey's feisty-ness and her ability to see how wrong the whole commune was in following Emmanuel.