Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Patron Saint of Butterflies
The Patron Saint of Butterflies might not sound like a very exciting story, but I'll tell you, it is amazing. In this debut novel by Cecilia Galante, we as readers are swept to the state of Connecticut to Mount Blessing, a religious commune with a dark secret.
The focus of the novel revolves around two fourteen girls - Agnes and Honey- who have been best friends since they were infants, when they'd had cribs right next to each other. While Agnes struggles to be a perfect Saint like the ones she reads about in the book she received titled "The Saint's Way," and in repentance for her sins, will fast, where a tight rope around her middle and sleep on rocks.
Honey, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to get out of the commune, where red and orange food are banned because they are of the devil. T.V is also outlawed as well non-religious music. Mount Blessing is run by Emmanuel, the leader and preacher who dictates how everyone must behave, as well as dishing out punishments.
Shortly after the story begins, Agnes's grandmother, called Nana-Pete, comes for an early visit, and soon finds out the commune's dark secret: The fact that is you misbehave, whether you are grown or just a child, Emmanuel and his right hand woman Veronica will beat you, and if you cry or shout it will only get worse.
Horrified by this revelation, Nana-Pete decides to take Agnes, Honey, and Agnes's little brother Benny, away from the Commune where they will be safe. But their departure is sped up when Benny's hand is critically injured and Emmanuel refuses to let him go to a hospital. Nana-Pete then leaves, with the children in tow, which includes a not so very happy Agnes. what happens next is a roller coaster ride of emotion and tension between the longtime best friends, one who is happy to be gone, while the other clings to the world she left behind.
The characters are riveting, three dimensional, and totally believable. The internal struggles both girls face was amazing and intense and I felt for each character. One thing I appreciated was how the author wrote the girl's friendship, their emotion and their thoughts. Another thing I appreciated was the fact that the dialogue was realistic and emotional without being dry or overly ridiculous.
The other characters, like Benny, Nana-Pete, and Lillian are also well drawn, three-dimensional, and interesting. Filled with the meaning of Christianity, family, friendship, and love, this is a book that will be enjoyed by anyone.
Go and read it, I promise you won't be sorry.