Tuesday, March 18, 2008
"Converting Kate" by Beckie Weinheimer
Kate, newly relocated with her mom to Maine, was raised in Arizona within the strict guidelines of her mother's very conservative church. Now, though, a year after her father's unexpected death, Kate is in the process of questioning everything about her religious unbringing: the extremely modest clothing, the banning of all but church-approved reading material, and the constant proselytizing of church non-members. Instead, Kate joins the school cross-country team, makes a variety of friends, reads books that had been banned to her, and even starts attending the youth group run by the town's new liberal minister. Subsequently, Kate finds herself in an almost constant battle with her mother.
Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, Kate finds in each new relationship, book, and experience a way to reform her beliefs and her way of thinking. Contrasting the lush greenery of Maine with the arid desert of Arizona, Kate emerges into a whole new world, inside and out.
Kate's search for her own moral compass is one with which most young adults can identify. Teens are naturals at questioning the rules and guidelines that adults can sometimes take for granted. Personally, I've always been fascinated with the psychology of how people form their beliefs, so "Converting Kate" was an especially good read for me. I admired Kate's strength in her struggle to question beliefs that were not personally valid for her.
Author Beckie Weinheimer was forty when she broke away from the church community that, from the time of her childhood, "dictated what I thought, drank, wore, read, and saw." In writing about a teen going through the same process, Weinheimer was successfully able to capture the emotions she must have had as a grown woman going through the same process making Kate's story very believable. You can read more about the author at her website: www.beckieweinheimer.com.
I'd rate this novel FOUR and a HALF out of FIVE stars.