Recommended Reads, Uncategorized

The Review I was Afraid to Write

Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby

I read this book “cold,” that is, I never once glanced at any reviews, summaries, or other potential spoilers. I had no inkling what this book was about other than the cover and the title. And, I admit, I didn’t really want to read it, figuring it was just another teeny-bopper “OMG she’s pregs!” story. Definitely not my cup o’ tea. So what made me pick it up? The author bio!

Here is this YA novel, put out by a Catholic publisher, written by a graduate of what is probably the most authentically-Catholic university in the world, with this rather shocking title that definitely does NOT look like the kind of thing I hand down to my daughters as “inspiring reading.” Curious. But I am here to tell you, this is not a book to be judged by its cover!

*SPOILERS a-comin’!*

Told as a retrospective account by (not-baby-daddy) Calvin, this is a painfully honest look into today’s Catholic high school culture through the eyes of a British student recently come to live in the States with family he never knew existed until the recent death of his single mother. Although he narrates the story of main character Sydney, a gifted social outcast who has been date raped by Calvin’s American cousin Josh, Calvin is the redeeming character in the story, a hero’s hero in every way. Thorne’s genius in crafting this “cursedly dashing British fellow” is the reason this (not really!) typical teenage tale, which could have potentially come off as trashy in the hands of a less-adept wordsmith, is worthy of high praise amongst diehard March-for-Lifers and Cafeteria Catholics alike. Similar to how Harper Lee used a child-protagonist/narrator to address volatile social topics in To Kill a Mockingbird, Thorne uses Calvin, a good-natured “foreigner” with an almost innocent bystander persona, to deliver harsh truths that might not sit as well with us coming from our own neighbors or family members. 

Calvin observes, “This particular Catholic school was one of those uniform-clad institutions that might make a pass at religious instruction here or there, but you’d probably never guess it if you walked the halls.” He relates a typical family dinner: “The three of them mumbled a quick, standard Catholic grace and began eating…” His perspective on the lackluster attitudes of American Catholic families comes off somehow less offensive to readers in the same way that Lee’s Scout could make racial observations no adult character could get away with in the deep South. Even so, it was pretty uncomfortable to read (one of) the (several pieces of terrible) advice from Sydney’s best friend Winnie on the topic of abortion: “Oh come on. Big Catholic school, oh no. Like we’re not all screwing each other and on the pill and watching our parents get divorced? Nobody cares about that stuff anymore. It’s not a big deal.” Ouch.

Winnie is not the only astonishly-horrible giver of advice. I was very surprised and sad at how Syndey’s beloved and trusted aunt, the adult she turned to for help, also let me, um, I mean Sydney, down. But then again, Thorne is telling a story that is painfully realistic. Parents, police, and even the school principal majorly drop the ball throughout, and a careless reader may call out Thorne on this aspect of the work, citing lack of good role models as a reason to keep this book out of the hands of our Catholic young adults. I admit this is something that had me dragging my feet a couple of days before I could recommend this book whole-heartedly to the Catholic community. But after letting it gel and rise and bloom in my heart for a night or two, I think what a mistake it that would have been, to not share this book!

I believe Thorne has heaped up such a high pile of mistakes and obstacles for our protagonist with good reasons beyond lending to a dramatic suspense the size of impossible: she’s fearlessly daring to illustrate our human fallibility. She’s shaking us all up a bit, saying even we grownups make mistakes, and we need to face it. Many situations in Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby are hard to look at, for young and not-so-young adult readers. And I’m sure many a Catholic mom-reader, as I did, will want to deny that a Catholic school could really be as bad as the one in this story, but I’ve lived this. I have to admit it really can be.

These harsh truths give Thorne’s tale power and credibility, for it is in contrast to such horribleness that we appreciate the profound goodness that exists in a character such as Calvin. Thorne gives YA readers a modern-day saint, if you will, that we can truly aspire to be. Oh! this book. It isn’t for the weak-of-heart, folks, but somehow I wish everyone would read it.


Adrienne Thorne is a Franciscan Steubenville grad who worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood until she returned to her first love, writing YA novels.

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Adrienne blogs here.

 

Molly McBride is disappointed with the seasons.
art, Molly Comics, Uncategorized

Second Winter

Molly McBride is disappointed with the seasons.
Don’t like the weather in Ohio? Wait five minutes.
art, Molly Comics, Uncategorized

Happy Easter from the McBrides!

Molly McBride Easter Banner 2018
Happy Easter from “the McBrides!”
Molly McBride and Sissy celebrate Daylight Savings!
art, Molly Comics, Mothers of Mollies, Uncategorized

Perspective

Molly McBride and Sissy celebrate Daylight Savings!
Molly and Sissy are happy to “sacrifice” an hour of sleep. How about you?
It's sharing time!, Recommended Reads, Uncategorized

Battle For Our Souls

Although I believe the target audience for Battle For His Soul is teen boys, I highly recommend this book for EVERYONE.

Book Review By Molly's Momma
By the pool: Battle For His Soul changed my life.

I packed this book for some light reading by the pool on our family Spring Break, but reading Battle For His Soul by Theresa Linden turned out to be a life-altering experience for me. While that statement may seem a little over-the-top for a woman pushing 50 and still reading YA novels, what I mean is this: 1. I can’t stop thinking about it, and 2. it has changed my behaviors, truly transforming me into a better person.

Linden vividly describes her characters’ guardian angels, as well as the demons they fight. Something that made a big impression on me was how acts of sacrificial love (as well as prayer) actually gave extra powers to the guardian angels and took away power from the demons. I have found myself prattling on endlessly to my family about how much I enjoyed this book. But, more importantly, I have found myself actively looking for more ways to perform acts of sacrificial love for them in my day-to-day activities. This little change in me seems to be spreading out like ripples, affecting the rest of the family: I am catching them doing extra little things for me and for each other!

Does the name Theresa Linden ring a bell? I’ve no doubt that it does at this point. I’ve blogged about her books before here.  A prolific writer,Linden is a member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild and Catholic Teen Books, which are 2 great sites to check out for more amazing books by Catholic authors. I read this about her on her blog:

“Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She hopes that the richness, depth, and mystery of the Catholic faith arouse her readers’ imaginations to the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace.”

As an aside, given that ’tis the season, I am also reminded that this is what Lent is all about: making acts of sacrificial LOVE. It doesn’t do any good to give up chocolate if it’s just going to make us hateful. Giving up (sacrificing) something only “counts” if it is done with LOVE. Who’da thunk I’d find such a message in a teen novel?

Amazon link to purchase Battle For His Soul.

What are you reading? You can share your favorite books by tagging your social media posts with #OpenBook and linking up with us at Carolyn Astfalk’s “My Scribbler’s Heart” blog as well as CatholicMom.

It's sharing time!, Mothers of Mollies, Recommended Reads, Uncategorized

Wake Up Your Rosary This Lent With Meggie K. Daly’s New Devotional

This winter has been BIZ ZEEE, my friends, and I’m afraid I’ve just been going through the motions of the seasons: Mardi Gras, ashes, fast, fish, grumpy ’cause I’m missing extra coffee. But I found a remedy for this lackluster Lent in my stack of beach reads! Maggie  K. Daly’s Bead by Bead: the Scriptural Rosary (I got the gorgeous full color version) was just what I needed. IMG_1612 (1)

I took my copy down to the beach about 3 PM Friday to say my Rosary while my oldest tried out her new boogie board. No sooner had I made the sign of the cross and read this line: “I renounce all distractions that may come to me while I am saying this Rosary…” (p 57 *) a laughing gull landed right in front of me and began laughing.

Soon after, the “Mom, look at me!” comments began, followed shortly by the congregation of the rest of the family with various wants, needs, and comments.

Lord, I need this book.

Somehow, I got through the Sorrowful Mysteries. And I made some very important observations along the way. My prayer life is sub-par. I can no longer hear the silence through all this chatter going on around me, both outside and inside my head. For example, Daly provides a short, one-liner bible verse after each Hail Mary, like this:

Hail Mary… Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. (LK 22:43, NRSV)

to be read with each bead. As I was moving to the next bead and began saying that Hail Mary, I caught myself looking ahead as my noisy mind “recited” the Hail Mary. Yes, I was “saying” a Hail Mary in my head at the same time I was reading ahead to the verse that Daly had so carefully chosen.  Busted.

I turned my beach chair and pushed my sunglasses up onto the top of my head. Now I was forced to close my eyes from time to time, and I used those moments to say the Hail Marys. My eyes could open against the bright sun only long enough to read the brief reflections. And what beautiful reflections! I was transformed back to the early days of my “re-version” (you know, like what you call a fallen-away Catholic who comes home: not a convert, but a revert) when tears would pour down my face every Tuesday and Friday as I said the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Every now and again, we need a little something to get us back on track. Bead by Bead: A Scriptural Rosary is the something I need right now, and I will be keeping it handy not only this Lent, but all year long. I highly recommend this devotional as an aide to rejuvenate your daily Rosary.

What are your favorite daily devotionals?

*Daly cites prayers from St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s The Secret of the Rosary throughout Bead by Bead.

You can follow Meggie K. Daly on FB here.

Her publisher’s website is here.

What are you reading? You can share your favorite books by tagging your social media posts with #OpenBook and linking up with us at Carolyn Astfalk’s “My Scribbler’s Heart” blog as well as CatholicMom.

http://catholicmom.com/2018/02/07/open-book-february-2018/