cover image The Patron Saint of Butterflies

The Patron Saint of Butterflies

Cecilia Galante, . . Bloomsbury, $16.99 (292pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-249-4

Inspired by her childhood in a religious commune, Galante's swift-moving debut novel may hold a ripped-from-the-headlines fascination for readers. But those who take the bait will find more contrivance than substance in the tale of two teenage girls' very different attitudes about the cloistered life they have been born into. Secluded at the Mount Blessing compound under the rule of the manipulative Emmanuel, 14-year-old Agnes strives for sainthood. Her best friend, Honey, however, questions Emmanuel's tactics and authority, and secretly longs for a normal life with TV, fashionable clothes and fast food. An injury to Agnes's younger brother sets in motion a daring escape from Mount Blessing orchestrated by the siblings' grandmother, with Honey along for the ride. As relationships strain and new situations arise, no one is sure what move to make next. The girls' friendship and their respective expressions of doubt in their faith—and in the adults they love—seem mostly convincing, but heavy foreshadowing and too many neatly aligned coincidences detract from the story. Ages 12–up. (May)