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Tagline: Put an atheist in a strict Catholic school? Expect comedy, chaos, and an Inquisition. The Breakfast Club meets Saved! in debut author Katie Henry’s hilarious novel about a band of misfits who set out to challenge their school, one nun at a time. Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Robyn Schneider.
About HERETICS ANONYMOUS: When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, 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 atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic…she wants to be a priest.
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.
Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But 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.
About the author: Katie Henry writes books and plays for and about her favorite demographic of people: teenagers. She spent her teen years in Berkeley, California, an ultra-liberal college town where adolescent rebellion takes the form of eating refined sugars or voting Republican. She moved to New York City for college and decided to stay, even though the avocados there frequently disappoint her. Katie’s interests include feminist/liberation theology, medieval history, and overthinking absolutely everything. Heretics Anonymous is her debut YA novel. https://katiehenrywrites.wordpress.com/
“’If monotheism’s true, anyone who doesn’t worship that one God is a sinner. If polytheism’s true, then any god can be real. You don’t have to worship them or think they’re good, but they can still exist. I can believe that Brighid’s real, and Athena’s real, and so is Jesus.’ She focuses on Lucy again. ‘He never did a thing for me, but if you want to work with Him, knock yourself out. Just give me the same respect.’”
“I let go of the medal and she eases back down, closing her eyes again. That’s Lucy in a nutshell—everything is more than it appears. A necklace isn’t just a necklace, it’s a miraculous painting and a green, foggy city. And religion isn’t just religion. It’s a link to places she’s never been, people she’s never met. People who are gone. It’s something passed down to her, no different than the medal around her neck. It’s where she comes from. It’s who she is.”
Praise for HERETICS ANONYMOUS:
“Teen angst and religious reflection cross paths in this insightful tale of self-discovery….[E]ngrossing….With a page-ripping plot and realistic character development, Henry's funny, heartwarming tale of unlikely rebels soars: an auspicious debut.” – Kirkus, starred review
“What is most impressive here…is Henry’s multifaceted take on religion. Michael isn’t searching; he know 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.” – Booklist, starred review
“A real and honest portrayal of teen socialization leads to an opportunity to discuss and drive activism among teen readers. The characters are by no means perfect. Each one struggles with family and personal issues which are reflected in their interactions with one another and other characters. The story adeptly asks readers to question what they believe and why, without being preachy, judgmental, or dismissive. Humor interlaced with more serious ideas make for an interesting and enjoyable read. VERDICT Highly recommended, especially for teens who are passionate about a cause.” – School Library Journal
“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. Snappy dialogue sparkles throughout this skillfully crafted debut.” – Publishers Weekly
“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.” – Horn Book
“Genuine and heartfelt doctrinal questions arise in between the pranks and the conversations Michael has with his new friends, allowing both believing and nonbelieving readers to find their way into this exploration of the way feelings about family and faith intersect. A balanced perspective of possibilities of faith and skepticism.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Hilarious, irreverent, charming, and an absolute delight! This book is everything I hoped for and more.” – Robyn Schneider, bestselling author of The Beginning of Everything
“Funny, touching, and wonderfully even-handed, Katie Henry’s debut novel is a weirdo’s guide to faith—in the best possible way.” – Anna Breslaw, author of Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here
“Katie Henry deftly weaves a nuanced coming-of-age story with the hilarity of medieval church history, feminist theology, and the achingly real struggle of coming to terms with one’s faith. I loved this book like WHOA.” – Joy McCullough, author of Blood Water Paint
“Engaging coming of age story where five teens set out to openly question the administration of their school. There's humor, friendship, romance, but mostly faith. Not just faith in God, but finding the peace and love within and with others. Totally recommend!” – YA Book Central
“Michael’s wit and sarcasm will surely make you crack up at times. There’s such honesty in his thoughts. But underlying all that bravado you get the sense of boy flailing at his inability to stay rooted to a place, and therefore distraught by the constant disruption in his life. This is Katie Henry’s debut novel and I must admit that she has crafted a remarkable storyline.” – The Life Stories
“The book offers a balanced perspective of possibilities of faith and skepticism through its realistic and respectful portrayal of a range of teens taking action, making mistakes, learning to forgive, and most of all, asking smart, important questions about things that matter.” – Project Muse
“This is one of those books that I knew I had to read, just based on the title. Fortunately, it didn't disappoint; in fact, it exceeded my expectations. Having had an extremely mixed experience with religion myself, I found many parts of this novel to be extremely relatable. This reminds me a lot of the works of Adam Selzer, an author I've mentioned my love for elsewhere on this website. While I went in expecting this to be more of an ensemble piece than it was, this is an incredibly enjoyable comedy, with a great cast of characters to back it up. I can very easily see this becoming a young adult mainstay in the future. Regardless of your religion or lack thereof, give this book a try. I think you'll enjoy it.” – Semi-Professional Book Person
“[T]his is light-hearted enough to make you smile and laugh during certain parts, but undeniably realistic, meaning that other scenes will hit you hard with their raw emotions.” – Hit or Miss Books
“This story about Michael, an atheist, who transfers to a Catholic school had me giggling from page one on.” – Geek Reads Kids
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