Converting Kate

Beckie Weinheimer, Author . Viking $16.99 (312p) ISBN 978-0-670-06152-5

In her first novel, Weinheimer explores the unhealthy influences religion can wield. The Holy Divine Church's strict requirements for members include weekly fasting, daily bible readings, limited contact with nonchurch members and exposure to popular culture. For 15-year-old Kate, it means no trips to the mall, no movies or video games, and no books that are not pre-approved by the church. While Kate's mother fully embraces this church doctrine, her father, who died the year before, did not. After her father's death, Kate refused to attend church ("It was the first Sunday I had not fasted"). Kate and her mother then moved from Phoenix to the small coastal village in Maine where her father grew up, to live with her father's Aunt Katherine and help her run a B&B. Knowing people who knew her father as a boy helps ground Kate and gives her the courage to start fresh. Kate narrates in a sometimes angry voice. Faced with daily situations that challenge what she's been taught, Kate questions her views about religion, and her inner conflict shows the great effort it takes for her to disentangle herself from the church's teachings, which intrude into her thoughts unbidden (often represented by italics). Despite her sheltered upbringing, Kate emerges as a strong, self-reliant young woman who is not afraid to question authority. Her plight will likely strike a chord with any teen who has struggled with a belief system that has been handed to them. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Children's
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