What happens when you put an athiest in Catholic school?
Michael is sick of moving around to suit his Dad’s job. This time it is even worse. Michael is an atheist and his new school – St Clare’s – is a Catholic school. After a dire first day, he is desperate to find one likeminded person.
Then he meets Lucy. Lucy is a staunch Catholic but her views on women are considered heretical by the church. She initials Michael in Heretics Anonymous – a group where students can hold their own views. Michael has four new friends.
When his plans to protest the school rules put his friends’ futures at risk, Michael must decide what his fight is really about.
A warm and witty book about tolerance and religion.
Heretics Anonymous is unusual in its open debate about religion. Instead of representing one side, it represents many. There’s Lucy, who believes in God but not the staunch rule of her church. Eden, who’s belief in paganism may be serious or may be teenage rebellion. There’s Michael, who reckons anyone who believes in God needs a reality check. Then there is Theresa, who has never known anything but God, to whom the rules of St Clare’s appear liberal compared to being homeschooled by her parents.
While the book invites skepticism about the more unusual aspects of different religions, it’s ultimate message is tolerance and respect. I liked this plea for open-mindedness. We don’t need to believe – or be prepared to believe – in something to respect other people’s right to believe in the same thing.
I laughed out loud at the antics of the group – from editing an extremely biased health-ed video to inviting students to follow the dress-code with fake mustaches. The book challenged the total authority of the school as much as it did the total authority of religion. Although it centered around religion, it’s messages could extend to any organised system.
Michael’s family story made him a relatable character, especially the tension between him and his Dad. Michael makes an interesting rebel – he is forced to confront the question about what he is really rebelling about.
With fantastic character development and great chemistry between the main characters, this story of teenage rebels and overbearing authority will gain lots of fans. A great debut.