Title: The Patron Saint of Butterflies
Author: Cecelia Galante
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Format: 8 CDs
Release Year: 2011 (Audiobook)
Run Time: 8 hours 45 minutes
Source: Audiobook Jukebox
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Religious Discussions, Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Agnes and Honey have always been best friends, but they haven’t always been so different. Agnes loves being a Believer. She knows the rules at the Mount Blessing religious commune are there to make her a better person. Honey hates Mount Blessing and the control Emmanuel, their leader, has over her life. The only bright spot is the butterfly garden she’s helping to build, and the journal of butterflies that she keeps. When Agnes’s grandmother makes an unexpected visit to the commune, she discovers a violent secret that the Believers are desperate to keep quiet. And when Agnes’s little brother is seriously injured and Emmanuel refuses to send him to a hospital, Nana Pete takes the three children and escapes the commune. Their journey begins an exploration of faith, friendship, religion and family for the two girls, as Agnes clings to her familiar faith while Honey desperately wants a new future.
This book was unique in that Full Cast Audio doesn't just employ one narrator, they employ many! That means this book had a different person's voice for each character, and I loved it. If you're worried that it might be a little confusing, trust me it's not. It's wonderful to have so many different timbres and intonations throughout the story. Each character in The Patron Saint of Butterflies comes to life.
The best part for me was that Agnes and Honey, the two characters who drive the story, were easy to distinguish between. Even if you didn't hear the title of the chapter to know who was speaking, you would still know. I honestly don't know if I would have enjoyed this book as much without listening to the audiobook version.
Audiobook Rating: 5/5 - I'd definitely recommend you pick this up!
My first thought when I finished The Patron Saint of Butterflies amounted to only this: WOW. Following that, I sat down to consider why I was so blown away. I've narrowed it down and it definitely has to do with the uniqueness of this book. Ceclia Galante deals with some topics in this story that aren't generally addressed, and she does it through the eyes of young people. There is no sugar coating here, no hand holding, just truth that comes from the experiences of these characters. In other words? Perfection.
Raised away from everything, in a religious commune, Agnes and Honey are like night and day. Friends since near birth, the girls have a very strong bond that follows them through the story. Both have extremely honest and real voices that are so wholly different. The reader is allowed to see the world through both Honey and Agnes' point of view, and that really changes the dynamic of the story. I'll be honest and say that there may be times in this story where I was close to despising Agnes. Her devout beliefs had a source, I knew, but I kept wavering between pity for her lack of life experience and wanting to hit her for being so naive. Honey on the other hand was a breath of fresh air. So alive, so unique, so unabashedly herself. The two of them play against one another wonderfully, and their differences really bring the story to life.
The journey that these girls take is breathtaking and heartbreaking in equal parts. Ceclia Galante weaves a story that deals with parts of us we generally don't tend to address. What is friendship, truly? How far can it reach when stretched? What happens when you are on two split paths? What really impressed me, above all else, though was how honestly Galante shares her real life experiences. Through these two very different girls, Galante shows us life in a commune as she experienced it, and she does it without bashing religion. It is definitely discussed in all aspects of the matter, but never once does she bash another person's beliefs.
The Patron Saint of Butterflies is a book that really hit me in the core. This book addresses religion, the idea of humanity, of family ties, and even the tried and true question of friendship. It is a book that made me ponder my own belief systems and ideas. Best of all, this story really is unlike anything I've had the opportunity to read lately. I can't express how much it blew me away. All I can say is that I want more.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.