Y’ALL. This. Effing. Book. Was so good that I pulled my ass out of my blogging slump to review it for y’all.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Sarah’s Sucky Summary: A (somewhat self-centered) boy who resents having to move for the umpteenth time has to endure an expensive ass Catholic school. One problem, he’s an atheist. But he meets some friends who share some of his views, and their support group/club starts trying to undermine all the inaccurate/sexist ways of the school. But when he takes one of these tasks a little too far, he has to learn what it truly means to be selfless.
Comp Title: This book is absolutely PERFECT for anyone who loved Dress Codes for Small Towns by: Courtney Stevens.
I really enjoyed the voice of Michael, since he shared a lot of my same views. I am not super religious myself, but I have been surrounded by people who are.
I don’t know why people assume shit like that. Like being an atheist requires some sort of tragic backstory.
“Did something happen to make you believe in God?”
“No, I just always did.”
“Yeah,” I say. “And I just never did.”
THIS EFFING QUOTE DESCRIBES MY EXISTENCE IN A NUTSHELL. Believing in God is not a thing someone throws away after something bad happens, just like believing in Him is not a thing someone starts doing after something good happens.
And I thoroughly enjoyed Eden talking about how some things weren’t for her in terms of her religion, but just because things weren’t real for her doesn’t mean they weren’t real for other people.
I also really love every moment that Michael has to check his privilege. When a teacher gets fired for marrying her wife, he has to learn that he doesn’t get to control everything HA does just because he will never understand Avi and the plight of every non-het/cis person. People can’t hurt him the way they can hurt Mrs. Simon, or Avi.
This book also hits on how, just because you’re suffering in a certain way, that doesn’t mean other people aren’t suffering in a different way.
“You don’t have a monopoly on suffering, okay?” I say, my voice rising. “Other people get to be mad about their lives. Your broken leg doesn’t make my sprained ankle hurt any less.”
I really enjoyed Lucy as a character, because she was able to be both Catholic and a feminist, which some people think are mutually exclusive. But I did agree with Michael that she was exceedingly on my nerves because she thought she was the only one in pain.
I also LOVED the discussion about hurting people, because that’s something that doesn’t really get explicitly talked about ever.
“When you hurt people,” he says, “even if you didn’t mean to, you don’t get to choose where they go from there. When you hurt someone, it stops being about you, or what you want.”
I thought Theresa Ambrose was a little bit too flat of a character; she basically lives and breathes Catholicism, and only works as an antagonist for the HA. I would have loved to see more of her backstory than just that her entire family is super religious, because just because people like her exist doesn’t make them inherently bad. I almost sympathized with her, honestly.
I would have loved to see Avi, Max, and Eden be more fleshed out and developed as characters. Yes they are diverse, and yes they are Lucy/Michael’s friends and part of HA, but we don’t see a lot of them other than that.
All in all, this is one of the best books this year, and I am truly thankful to have been able to read it before it was released.
f t c: I received an eARC to review from Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.
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