HENRY, Kate. Heretics Anonymous
Booklist Reviews 2018 June #1
*Starred Review* Michael is not happy about spending his junior year attending a Catholic high school, but his father's job entails moving around, and it is the best school in the area. Who, he wonders, is going to be friends with an atheist? But he finds a group, collectively known as Heretics Anonymous, who hang out in a hidden room of the school basement to discuss their dissatisfaction with St. Clare's. Avi is Jewish, and gay Max is eccentric; Eden practices paganism; and Lucy—well, Lucy, a rebellious Catholic, is just wonderful. In her debut, Henry takes on a lot: a strained father-son relationship, a first romance between Michael and Lucy that's more tentative than torrid, and a group dynamic that propels the Heretics to take action rather than just gripe. The balls stay in the air quite well, and while a few of the characters, like Max, are never quite developed (or, in the case of super-Catholic Teresa, stereotypical), adults and teens alike get their due. What is most impressive here, however, is Henry's multifaceted take on religion. Michael isn't searching; he knows how he feels. Yet his introduction to others who feel differently—in the case of Lucy, passionately differently—opens him up. Come for the arch first-person narrative and puppy love, stay for the examination into belief. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2019 Spring
Atheist new-student Michael assumes St. Clare's will be full of "mindless Catholic sheep" but finds himself welcomed into Heretics Anonymous, a secret group for students whose beliefs don't align with the Catholic school's doctrine. The group begins taking subversive action at Michael's encouragement; eventually, Michael goes too far. This frequently hilarious story presents a thought-provoking look at faith, questioning but ultimately respectful of Catholicism and other beliefs. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #4
Atheist teen Michael's family's latest move has landed him at the Catholic, conservative St. Clare's Preparatory School (it's the area's best private school, so some non-Catholics attend). Michael assumes the school will be full of "mindless Catholic sheep" but finds himself welcomed into Heretics Anonymous, a secret support group for students whose beliefs don't match up with the school's doctrine. Members include gay, Jewish Avi; self-described pagan Eden; Max, who chafes at the school's dress code; and devoutly Catholic, feminist Lucy, who wants to be a priest. The group begins taking subversive action at Michael's encouragement, starting with an "annotated for accuracy" sex-ed video; eventually, Michael himself goes too far. In addition to being a frequently hilarious comedy with its share of complicated romance (see: Lucy), the story presents a thought-provoking look at faith, questioning but ultimately respectful of Catholicism and other beliefs, Michael's atheism included: he grows to understand why religion is important to others, but remains true to himself. shoshana flax Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2018 June #2
In this entertaining coming-of-age story, five free-thinking students launch a clandestine campaign against their school's rigid policies and practices, with unanticipated consequences. When his father's job necessitates yet another move to a new town, Michael, a devout atheist who anticipates being miserable at his Catholic high school, finds himself unexpectedly invited into a "study group" of self-proclaimed heretics. Lucy wants to be a priest, Eden practices "Celtic Reconstructionist Polytheism," Avi is Jewish and gay, and Max is Unitarian Universalist. Through creative, anonymous measures, they contest the sex education curriculum, the dress code, and the dismissal of a lesbian teacher for marrying her long-term partner. The school authorities and some students attempt to discover the subversives and restore discipline, while a developing romance between Michael and Lucy challenges both students to respect the other's beliefs. When Michael commits an act that threatens his newfound friendships, he undergoes a spiritual awakening of sorts, which the author pulls off without sentimentality. None of Henry's multi-dimensional, multi-ethnic characters fall into stereotypes, and her snappy dialogue sparkles throughout this skillfully crafted debut. Ages 13–up. Agent: Sarah LaPolla, Bradford Literary Agency. (Aug.)Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.