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The Patron Saint of Butterflies

by Cecilia Galante

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3342659,502 (3.97)9
When her grandmother takes fourteen-year-old Agnes, her younger brother, and best friend Honey and escapes Mount Blessing, a Connecticut religious commune, Agnes clings to the faith she loves while Honey looks toward a future free of control, cruelty, and preferential treatment.
  1. 00
    Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande (petersfamily)
    petersfamily: Both books deal with adolescents struggling with questions about their religion and with building their own personal religious beliefs in a sensitive and tasteful way.
  2. 00
    Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka (meggyweg)
  3. 00
    The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (ForeignCircus)
    ForeignCircus: Another young adult novel about growing up in a religious cult and facing unbearable choices to further the greater good.
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
My first thought when I finished The Patron Saint of Butterflies amounted to only this: WOW. Following that, I sat down to consider why I was so blown away. I've narrowed it down and it definitely has to do with the uniqueness of this book. Ceclia Galante deals with some topics in this story that aren't generally addressed, and she does it through the eyes of young people. There is no sugar coating here, no hand holding, just truth that comes from the experiences of these characters. In other words? Perfection.

Raised away from everything, in a religious commune, Agnes and Honey are like night and day. Friends since near birth, the girls have a very strong bond that follows them through the story. Both have extremely honest and real voices that are so wholly different. The reader is allowed to see the world through both Honey and Agnes' point of view, and that really changes the dynamic of the story. I'll be honest and say that there may be times in this story where I was close to despising Agnes. Her devout beliefs had a source, I knew, but I kept wavering between pity for her lack of life experience and wanting to hit her for being so naive. Honey on the other hand was a breath of fresh air. So alive, so unique, so unabashedly herself. The two of them play against one another wonderfully, and their differences really bring the story to life.

The journey that these girls take is breathtaking and heartbreaking in equal parts. Ceclia Galante weaves a story that deals with parts of us we generally don't tend to address. What is friendship, truly? How far can it reach when stretched? What happens when you are on two split paths? What really impressed me, above all else, though was how honestly Galante shares her real life experiences. Through these two very different girls, Galante shows us life in a commune as she experienced it, and she does it without bashing religion. It is definitely discussed in all aspects of the matter, but never once does she bash another person's beliefs.

The Patron Saint of Butterflies is a book that really hit me in the core. This book addresses religion, the idea of humanity, of family ties, and even the tried and true question of friendship. It is a book that made me ponder my own belief systems and ideas. Best of all, this story really is unlike anything I've had the opportunity to read lately. I can't express how much it blew me away. All I can say is that I want more.
( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Agnes and Honey are to teenagers who live in a Christian cult community outside of Fairfield, CT, where they worship God as well as Emmanuel, the cult leader. While Agnes can envision no other life beyond the confines of Mount Blessing, Honey longs to escape the cult and lead a "normal" life. Agnes and Honey flee Mount Blessing with Nana Pete (Agnes's grandmother) to secure medical treatment for Agnes's little brother Benny, who is grievously injured and well beyond the "capability" of a faith healer. Honey is thrilled that they escaped, but it takes Agnes a little longer to come around. The book gives its readers some insight into what life is like inside of a cult devoted to a charismatic leader, which, fortunately, is an experience that few students have had. Anything related to religion is somewat of a third rail in public schools, but for a courageous teacher, The Patron Saint of Butterflies would be a good fictional addition to a social studies diversity curriculum.
  rhoadesm1 | Jul 11, 2017 |
I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end! It's about a commune/cult where two girls get in trouble and with the help of the one girl's grandmother venture out in the real world.
For the rest of the review, visit my blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/128028.html ( )
  booklover3258 | May 7, 2017 |
This book about two girls escaping a religious cult is compelling not only for its timeliness but also because the author herself grew up in a similar commune and brings an insider perspective. It's a suspenseful, absorbing read with well-defined characters. A summer reading treat! ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
I only read this book because, a few weeks ago on Shelfari, it had the most comments added for the day, and I'm really glad I did! Told from both Angus and Honey's perspectives, the book deals with life in a religious commune and the powerful control Emmanuel, the founder, has on his followers. Dealing with friendship, families, child abuse, lies and faith, "The patron saint of butterflies" is based on the author's own childhood experiences. An enjoyable read. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
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Epigraph
In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.
--Czeslaw Milosz
Dedication
This book is dedicated to Ruth VanLokeren and to Fannye Jo Plummer.
First words
Please tell me what to do," I whisper, staring at the crucifix on the wall.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When her grandmother takes fourteen-year-old Agnes, her younger brother, and best friend Honey and escapes Mount Blessing, a Connecticut religious commune, Agnes clings to the faith she loves while Honey looks toward a future free of control, cruelty, and preferential treatment.

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Agnes and Honey have always been best friends, but they haven’t always been so different. Agnes loves being a Believer. She knows the rules at the Mount Blessing religious commune are there to make her a better person. Honey hates Mount Blessing and the control Emmanuel, their leader, has over her life. The only bright spot is the butterfly garden she’s helping to build, and the journal of butterflies that she keeps. When Agnes’s grandmother makes an unexpected visit to the commune, she discovers a violent secret that the Believers are desperate to keep quiet. And when Agnes’s little brother is seriously injured and Emmanuel refuses to send him to a hospital, Nana Pete takes the three children and escapes the commune. Their journey begins an exploration of faith, friendship, religion and family for the two girls, as Agnes clings to her familiar faith while Honey desperately wants a new future.
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