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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature - Robin Brande

Wow, would I NOT like to be Mena. She's a high school freshman who is shunned by many of her peers, people who USED to be her best friends. Mena has done something, clearly, but there are only veiled hints as to what it is for the first probably half of the book. Whatever it was, it surely made some people VERY angry. Angry enough that while they profess to be Christian, they call her some very unkind names.

Luckily, Mena finds a new friend, Casey, but there's one big problem. Casey's a boy. Mena's already in big trouble at home for whatever it is she already did, and now she wants to go to the house of a BOY?!? He is her only friend, and it is for science class, well, at least at first, but still. She knows her parents would never go for it, and so she begins to lie. And when was the last time you ever read a novel (or saw a real life situation for that matter) where the lying worked out? Mmmmm-hmmmm.

And then there's this whole other part of the story which is about Mena's science class where her teacher is teaching about evolution. But one of the town's pastors is very against this, and wants Intelligent Design included in the curriculum. Ms. Shepherd, the teacher, is having no part of it. Mena is a thoughtful Christian girl. She has trouble understanding the great rift between evolution and Christianity. In fact, she even finds some places in the Bible where she sees evidence of evolution.

As she tries to makes sense of all this - the behavior of her pastor, her so-called friends, her parents - for herself and for others (The Bible Grrrl says), she learns a lot of important lessons about leadership and doing the right thing even when it's hard. She learns a few things about puppies, Lord of the Rings and first love as well.

I'd highly recommend this to 8th graders and up who like science and a novel that makes you think a little. I think some of the science concepts might bog down younger readers.

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