by Jen Petro-Roy
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Evie is 11 years old when her 15-year-old sister gets pregnant and their very traditional Catholic parents send her away to an aunt in the country. The plan is for her to have the baby and give it up for adoption, and then go to school out there. Evie writes to her sister often even though her sister rarely responds and when she does, it is only to say “I am enjoying my school. Don’t write to me again. I’m better off here.” Meanwhile, Evie desperately seeks advice on her growing feelings for her friend June who, besides being a girl, is an atheist. The epistolary format works extremely well in this book and never once feels forced, even though it turns out there is good reason for it to fall apart.
Without giving too much away, Evie’s parents come around and some major secrets are shared. Evie has the kind of growing up shedding of innocence that is pretty major for 11 years old, and her response to it remarkably (almost unbelievably) mature. She wrestles with her faith in God and her parents come to talk to her almost as an adult. Most importantly, they accept June. Not since Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret has a middle schooler so grappled with her faith – unless, of course, you count My Basmati Bat Mitzvah.