Book: Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
Published August 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books|329 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: YA Contemporary
Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s—a strict Catholic school—sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.
But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.
I thought this one was an interesting one, and I’ll admit, I was intrigued by a group of outcasts called Heretics Anonymous.
Michael and his friends are quite the interesting but different group of people. So, this book doesn’t set out to convert anyone, and you get everyone as they are. There’s a lot of different viewpoints, and I felt like Henry was respectful of all of the different beliefs we see in the book. I can’t think of any other YA book that specifically mentions atheism, and it made for an interesting read, because you see how Michael reacts to everything at his new school.
Tolerance and understanding is definitely something that comes across throughout the whole book, and I liked seeing the difference in beliefs (and lack thereof) we see in the book. It felt really natural, and I never had the impression that characters were in there to check off a box. It was nice to see that different beliefs can actually co-exist and get along, and that it’s okay to have your own belief system.
There were also some really funny moments, which I liked seeing. I felt like YA tends to make me cry more than it makes me laugh, but I do tend to go for the heavy stuff. It was nice to read something lighter for once.
I really liked Michael and Lucy, though I could care less about their romance. While Michael made some bad decisions, I also understand why he acted the way he did. Also…I hated his dad. He was terrible for most of the book, and it really bothered me that Michael and his sister were told they weren’t moving for a while, only for it to not happen. At least, it seemed up in the air at the end of the book and I think some of the things Michael did could have been avoided had his parents been honest.
3 stars. I liked it, but I can’t pinpoint anything super-specific about what I didn’t like. It’s worth checking out.