Author: Robin Brande.
Mena’s starting highschool at the worst time of her life. Her old friends all hate her and even her parents are distant and cold – she tried to do the right thing, but everything went wrong and she doesn’t know how to recover from the effects. Things begin looking up in biology class, when she is assigned to a completely capable and rather engaging partner, but some of her old friends from church are in the same class – and when the syllabus moves onto evolution, they’re not going to stand for it. Caught up in her partner’s enthusiasm for their science project, Mena is dragged into an ever deepening whirlpool of lies with her parents so that she can go to his house and work on their project. She must struggle to balance all her old beliefs and the new teaching that sounds so convincing, separate her life cleanly between home and school without slipping up, and walk the gauntlet of her classmates’ hate.
Written in the first-person voice of a teenage girl journaling, the writing was convincing and realistic, if occasionally grating. Mena as a character was also believable and relatable, a teenager caught up by problems she has no control over. Her science teacher had interesting views, and one of the best parts was seeing Mena figure out that she could believe in God and Evolution.
On the other hand, every other Christian in the book, the Creationists, were portrayed as inept and unkind, foolishly disrespecting their teacher and cruelly tormenting those they believed sinners. Because of the lack of other good Christian characters, overall Christians seemed portrayed badly.
Mena’s lies grew harder to condone, even if expectable. And while for some people it would not be a problem, for myself it was less than enjoyable to find out that Mena was a ‘Paradise Church’ Christian. Her parents have never let her read lord of the rings or harry potter. She doesn’t go to church anymore – it’s just as acceptable to watch religious TV shows, and the church is too unwelcoming. Over all, a light YA story that was funny at points, could have been better but the emphasis on religion and evolution became a bit heavy handed.
Sexual content: One girl wears tight shirts, “two sizes too small to show off her [assets]”. One kiss. Character says her parents worry she’ll be drugged or swept of her feet by hormones and have sex with some boy before marriage. One character calls another gay.
Language: 5 derogatory names.
Violence: School kids shove, bump, and startle one character every time they pass her. It is found out that in the past, a group of kids bullied and ostracized one boy they believed to be gay until he tried to commit suicide.