cover image Heretics Anonymous

Heretics Anonymous

Katie Henry. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-269887-2

In this entertaining coming-of-age story, five free-thinking students launch a clandestine campaign against their school’s rigid policies and practices, with unanticipated consequences. When his father’s job necessitates yet another move to a new town, Michael, a devout atheist who anticipates being miserable at his Catholic high school, finds himself unexpectedly invited into a “study group” of self-proclaimed heretics. Lucy wants to be a priest, Eden practices “Celtic Reconstructionist Polytheism,” Avi is Jewish and gay, and Max is Unitarian Universalist. Through creative, anonymous measures, they contest the sex education curriculum, the dress code, and the dismissal of a lesbian teacher for marrying her long-term partner. The school authorities and some students attempt to discover the subversives and restore discipline, while a developing romance between Michael and Lucy challenges both students to respect the other’s beliefs. When Michael commits an act that threatens his newfound friendships, he undergoes a spiritual awakening of sorts, which the author pulls off without sentimentality. None of Henry’s multi-dimensional, multi-ethnic characters fall into stereotypes, and her snappy dialogue sparkles throughout this skillfully crafted debut. Ages 13–up. Agent: Sarah LaPolla, Bradford Literary Agency. (Aug.)