Karen added this one in October, 2011. I didn't see any of her goodreads friends have this on their list so I am not sure where she heard about this one or why she wanted to read it other than I know she loved young adult books.
We have a teenage girl, named Mena, that is raised in a very conservative, religious home. She does something that has her entire church upset with her and excommunicates her. Even her parents shun her and we don't find out what she does until mid-way through the book.
Her religious/Christian ex-friends are back-stabbing, bad-mouthing, bullies and this girl is just trying to do the right thing.
She shares a science class with several of these Christian ex-friends and they get on the topic of evolution. The Christian group throws a fit and every time the teacher begins to teach on the topic, the group will turn their chairs and sit backwards, to let the teacher know they did not approve. Mena, the shunned one, sees this group in a whole new light, perhaps how others once saw her as ignorant and judgmental and intolerant.
We read how confused Mena is with the things she has been taught and the hypocrisy of her church. Mena makes new friends that seem to be genius (a little cliché for me, the whole genius/high-intelligent equals not Christian and able to see things "more clearer", more tolerant, and laughing at such naïve ideas as Christianity).
Mena starts to sneak out and lie to her parents so she can be around this new group of people that apparently is good for her as her intolerant parents are way too strict and would never understand the enlightenment this new group has given Mena.
And so it goes on....
I honestly think Karen would have hated this book. I never thought of Karen as "religious", but she definitely had a firm foundation and belief in the creation and in Jesus Christ. Her last wish for everyone she knew was to have a strong relationship with Him so she can see "us" again. So, I think this book would have rubbed her wrong.
As for me...I'm Mormon. There are many, many Mormon scientist and we believe in the creations of new worlds AND in science. I can see the difference of evolution and the creation and not get all riled up because you can have both, my belief. So, I wasn't offended, but maybe a little annoyed by this argument because it is redundant and cliché, for me. What did bother me was the stereotyping of Christians being intolerant and evil-doers. Yes, there are many that go to church on a Sunday and then will be cussing you out by Monday, however, I do believe there are many more trying their best to progress and become better people. We go to church to improve, not because we are perfect beings.
Also, I hate the encouraging of going behind parents backs "because they wouldn't understand" and how those that do not go to church have such calm, cool, understanding parents. This is a YA book, vulnerable teens are reading this, so I can see many relating and seeing this as a way to behave rather than just talking to their parents. The idea of restricting our teens from watching or participating in certain things should not be judged but allow parents to parent their own child to the best of their ability. This book (even I, a moderately conservative person) felt her parents restrictions were a bit much (no Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, eeek!), but too each his own. No judgment here. Parenting is hard work.