cover image Believe Me

Believe Me

Nina Killham, Author . Plume $14 (291p) ISBN 978-0-452-28976-5

The overpublished religion vs. atheism debate takes a refreshing turn here. In an understated way, Killham (How to Cook a Tart ) takes a modest run at the great questions: does God exist? if so, where is he when people get ill or get mugged? These are the matters chewed on by 13-year-old narrator Nic (as in Nicolaus Copernicus) Delano, whose astrophysicist mother, Lucy, is an atheist who believes in nature. Nic’s teen hormones make his curiosity more than intellectual, and he’s as interested in girls as he is in the Bible, a suitably rebellious topic for an atheist’s kid. Nic is attracted to things about the Bible-believing Christian lifestyle: for one thing, his friend’s mom bakes cookies. But many things forge the ties that bind. Minor characters could be more memorably drawn, and the interfaith range of beliefs (the Muslim babysitter, the Jewish relatives) is more convenient than convincing. But for those who prefer stories of love, faith and pain to a theological argument about them, this is a sweet, engaging read. (Jan.)