The Patron Saint of Butterflies
Agnes, on the other hand, is a devout Believer. She thinks she deserves Emmanuel's whippings, and she yearns to become a perfect person --- a saint, like the saints in her precious book, THE SAINTS' WAY. To that end, she fasts until she faints, and sleeps upon a bed filled with sharp rocks.
The two girls are so close that when Agnes's grandmother, Nana Pete, makes her scheduled visits, Honey is always included in the activities. Now, though, Agnes's parents are aghast because Nana Pete drops in without warning. When Honey secretly confides in Nana Pete about the whippings, the elderly woman, spurred by a tragic accident, is desperate to rescue the children. What follows is a gripping odyssey tale, combining an intriguing mystery with an exploration of the meaning of faith, friendship, and family ties.
This book is such a compelling page-turner that I finished it in two sittings; I absolutely had to find out what happened to Agnes and Honey. Along the way, I was blindsided by a stunning twist in the plot, and then satisfied with the not too tidy conclusion, which feels just right.
How much did I love THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES? It is definitely in the running for my own personal Best Book of 2008 award.
Honey is strong-willed and hates the Believers' leader Emmanuel. Agnes is soft-spoken and ever since her twelfth b-day, she strives to be saintly like the leader. Both are young girls living on Mount Blessing who have been best friends since the beginning. Honey wants to leave, but Agnes cannot see any reason to until Nana Pete comes for a visit and discovers the Regulation Room. Nana Pete knows that those two cannot stay, but Agnes parents are stubborn in keeping to the cult. Eventually, Honey and Nana Pete get Agnes and her brother to leave, but another tragedie strikes, putting their newly aquired freedom in jeapardy. The book's layout is easy to follow and the characters are well developed because the chapters point of views alternate between Honey and Agnes. Even so, I didn't really like any of the characters except for Nana Pete. Honey can be a brat and Agnes is impossible at times, but the story was still a good one.
Agnes and Honey have been living in Mount Blessing for their entire lives. Mount Blessing, an extremely religious community, is led by Emmanuel. Agnes loves this place. She even wants to become a saint. Honey doesn't. She hates mount Blessing and all it's stupid rules. No television or red food? That's just strange. Every Summer, Nana Pete, Agnes's grandmother, comes to visit. She shows them little things from the outside world, like food they can't have or cars. But this year she comes a bit early and when she hears about the awful things that have been happening to the children, she decides she has to help them.
The Patron Saint of Butterflies is told in the point of view of both Agnes and Honey in alternating chapters. I think I liked Honey more. Agnes was a little over religious for me and didn't really seem to be able to think for herself. But, at the end Agnes really redeemed herself so I guess I won't dislike her too much. The ending was pretty good and the beginning wasn't that exciting or fast. It took me a little while to get past it but when I did I liked it.