Kate's life has always included her religion. Her mother has always been involved in the very conservative Holy Divine Church, and Kate used to be devout as well. Recent events, however, have shaken her faith
- her father's sudden death and her mother's refusal to hold a funeral, for example. Now Kate and her mother have moved to Maine to help her elderly aunt run a bed and breakfast. It's a chance at a fresh start for Kate; she won't attend church events with her mother, or wear the long skirts that the girls at the Holy Divine Church have to wear to school, instead wearing her running shorts and joining the cross-country team as an extra-curricular activity now that she's not spending all her time at church. She makes new non-church friends and actually begins to see some of the world outside of her mother's sheltered church community.
Kate is beginning to think for herself rather than blindly following her
mother's faith. She's learning that there's a whole world out there, and it's
not nearly as scary as the members of the Holy Divine Church might like her to
believe. There are other sub-plots involving Kate's being a normal teenage girl,
non-church parts of the story, but really this is about Kate's search for her own beliefs when her mother's faith fails her. Is it a good book? Sure. It's interesting, thought-provoking, well-written
- it's just that there are better books that raise the same questions, address the same issues.
This crisis of faith idea, the idea of learning to think for oneself, is certainly not new in adolescent literature. It's definitely relevant, too; so many
children have grown up with their parents' beliefs, never realizing that perhaps that's not the only way to think until they're older
- say, teenagers. These are important books to have, important issues to write about as questioning of faith, regardless of how one answers those questions, is part of the human (and teenage) experience.
Having established the importance of the topic, Converting Kate is just nothing special. Does it raise questions about beliefs? Yes, but so do many other books, and while Becky Weinheimer's novel is fairly interesting, it really doesn't stand out with regard to style, characterization, etc. If you're only going to read one book of this type, Converting Kate shouldn't be it; however, if this is your regular reading interest, sure, go ahead and pick it up! I'd first reccomend
Born Again by Kelly Kearney or Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks Of Nature by Robin Brande, though, if you're just looking for something that deals with teenagers questioning religion.