Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 07 Sep 2021
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Publisher's description: Raised by conservative parents, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. Instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed.
While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship about the church. The clock is ticking on Pastor Allen’s probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive - even when he can’t possibly forget.
As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.
I received a free copy of the ebook from Netgalley in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.
“I can’t pretend to understand this compulsion you guys have to hide your humanity at the risk of appearing human.”
I spent 15 years of my youth in the Deep South - the Bible Belt. I grew up in a pretty progressive Catholic church in a family of very strong women so I didn’t personally experience crazy pressure to be the perfect, little church girl growing up. I went to high school with a lot of girls who did though. It was absolutely ludicrous how much pressure was put on the girls to be pure and how boys were just being boys. This book addresses this issue from a Christian author. I would actually recommend reading the Author’s Note first. It came at the end of my ebook copy so I read it last. I had enjoyed the book, but I loved the book even more after reading the author’s raw emotions in her story of how she came to write the book and the trouble she had finding a publisher because of her forthright questioning of how the church treats girls. I thought the author did a brilliant job with her story of the real struggles of youth caught between being human and being “church pure”.
This was an odd choice for me to pick up as I’m a Unitarian Universalist now and served as a professional youth advisor in my faith for five years. Let’s just say how UUs treat their youth and how fundamentalist Christians treat their youth are VERY different. (The UU Church offers comprehensive sexuality education, called Our Whole Lives. It is literally life-saving). It breaks my heart to think of all the girls who are made to feel that their god doesn’t love them because of their very humanity. The author states that her book isn’t quite secular but is definitely not inspirational. I would argue it is very inspirational. I wish my friends back in high school all those years ago and every “good little church girl” out there now would have had a voice like Ms. Hahn’s to let them know that their god’s grace covers them no matter what.
Book Club Discussion Questions
About the author:
ERIN HAHN is the author of You'd Be Mine, More Than Maybe, and Never Saw You Coming. She married her very own YA love interest, who she met on her first day of college, and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a.k.a. the greenest place on earth, and has a cat named Gus who plays fetch and a dog named June who doesn’t.