Galante, Cecilia. 2008. The Patron Saint of Butterflies.
The Patron Saint of Butterflies is good. It's not always a comfortable read. But it's good and powerful and memorable. Narrated by two young girls--Agnes and Honey--it is the story of two children (among many) growing up in a religious commune, a cult, if you will. Agnes, of the two, is the most devout, the most brainwashed by the leaders. Honey, unlike most of the others, has doubts on most days. Perhaps this is because Honey is not as accepted, not as loved, not as "important" as Agnes. Honey lives alone from the others. Maybe Honey has been inside the "Regulation Room" a few too many times to believe than any man who is that cruel could be holy. The two girls are very different, and sometimes they're more enemies than friends. But their lives are connected in more ways than one as the story unfolds.
Honey after a horrible beating is looking for escape, she finds that escape in Agnes' grandmother, Nana Pete, a yearly visitor to Mount Blessing. She tells her secret; she tells her truth hoping and praying that this kind woman will intervene, will stand up for what must be right. Honey is a good judge of character. The event that triggers their exodus, however, is an injury. Agnes' brother, Benny, needs medical treatment. His parents refuse. They trust in Emmanuel, their leader, to "heal" their son. Fortunately, this grandma isn't going to stand by and watch her grandson be treated thus...at the best, he'd just lose the use of his hand, at the worst he could very well die. She must act and quickly.
Honey, Agnes, Benny, and Nana Pete are soon on the road and seeking freedom. But not everyone wants to be free...
The book is intense and powerful and well written.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews