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Believe Me Paperback – January 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The overpublished religion vs. atheism debate takes a refreshing turn here. In an understated way, Killham (How to Cook a Tart) takes a modest run at the great questions: does God exist? if so, where is he when people get ill or get mugged? These are the matters chewed on by 13-year-old narrator Nic (as in Nicolaus Copernicus) Delano, whose astrophysicist mother, Lucy, is an atheist who believes in nature. Nics teen hormones make his curiosity more than intellectual, and hes as interested in girls as he is in the Bible, a suitably rebellious topic for an atheists kid. Nic is attracted to things about the Bible-believing Christian lifestyle: for one thing, his friends mom bakes cookies. But many things forge the ties that bind. Minor characters could be more memorably drawn, and the interfaith range of beliefs (the Muslim babysitter, the Jewish relatives) is more convenient than convincing. But for those who prefer stories of love, faith and pain to a theological argument about them, this is a sweet, engaging read. (Jan.)
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About the Author

Nina Killham was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of an American Foreign Service officer, and lived overseas much of her childhood. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, which she fled her junior year to live in Paris and eat. One of her first writing stints was for the Washington Post Food Section where she wrote about local food personalities and tested endless recipes.

After writing about travel and lifestyle for national magazines, she went off to Los Angeles to gain fame and fortune as a screenwriter and ended up working as an assistant for Columbia Pictures where grown men fought like children over parking spaces and made their secretaries pick peanut M&M’s out of a mixed candy dish because well…they don’t like peanut M&Ms. She finally left the studio to write the screenplay that was going to make her famous and rich, ending up six months later as a secretary in an ear plug factory.

She is now married to an Australian who is a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics. They live in London, have two young children and like to bicker about the meaning of life. She is also the author of How to Cook a Tart, and Mounting Desire. Believe Me is her third novel.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Original edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452289769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452289765
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,164,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hi, I'm Nina Killham. I'm the author of three books: How to Cook a Tart (Bloomsbury), Mounting Desire (Bloomsbury) and Believe Me (Penguin). I was born in Washington DC but now live in London with my Australian husband and children. Before writing full time I had a variety of jobs, including working for ABC News, The Washington Post, Columbia Pictures and an earplug factory. I hope you enjoy my books. I always love feedback which you can give to me through my website Thanks!

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Gossett on February 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
We live in an age and time when we're often more likely to emphasize and get stuck on being right than on understanding the point of view of another person. During the election season, most conservatives read conservative blogs, while liberals read liberal blogs, and neither group gets very good at really listening to the other. The same thing is often true in religious circles; several times in the past week I've had progressive friends lament the upcoming discussions they'd have with their conservative family members. It seems to be a rare individual who really "gets" people on the other side of the proverbial fence.

After reading Nina's book, I suspect that she might be one of these rare folks. Her novel is told from the perspective and in the voice of Nic, a thirteen year-old boy who is an only child. Nic lives with his mother, Lucy, an astrophysicist and a devout atheist who has very little tolerance for matters of faith. She's very content to study the stars, live a good life, and do the best that she can as a mom.

Nic, on the other hand, is at that age in life where he's forming an identity of his own. He befriends the local pastor of a small independent church, a Nigerian man named Dele, and begins secretly attending a Bible study at his best friend's house. Of course, it's not long before Lucy finds out about everything, and things begin to spiral out of control in her world. Life for the two of them gets ever more interesting when Dele ends up living with them in a spare bedroom, and everyone is forced to rethink a few of their long-held attitudes, beliefs, and habits about many topics.

Late in the book, tragedy strikes the family, and Nic and Lucy struggle to maintain their belief systems in the midst of the pain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tracy F. VINE VOICE on February 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Realistically, BELIEVE ME is a coming-of-age tale about thirteen-year-old Nic Delano. You see Nic's mother is an atheist and influence from Nic's friend has him questioning if God exists. Nic's friend, Kevin's, mother bakes cookies rather than purchases them, and their family unit is what Nic's always dreamed of. Nic's parents are married, but his mother refused to leave her job and move when his father was transferred, so the family is clearly divided.

When Nic begins attending regular Bible studies, his mother is furious but realizes stopping him will only drive him farther away. When Nic asks to let one of the church members, an African named Dele, move in, she begrudgingly allows it. Dele's presence begins to work wonders on both mother and son. However, Nic's mother soon has her own secret that will make or break Nic's newfound belief.

The pacing of BELIEVE ME is slow, yet steady. It's not a Christian story, yet I was certain it would appeal to Christians because Nic's journey into Christianity was a key point of the story. Characters never truly became mesmerizing, I liked them, but never loved them. I did snicker with the opening line in which Nic asks why there are so many types of peanut butter, that one line pulled me in.

Overall, I question who will get the most out of this book. Though it is an adult fiction novel, I almost think that it will appeal to teenagers and pre-teens who enjoy tales of dysfunctional families. BELIEVE ME is a unique storyline and certain to make for interesting reading group discussions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Forman on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed Nina Killham's first two books. Her first book, HOW TO COOK A TART is a delightful send-up of our impressions of food, relationships and love with a cast of quirky characters and a hilarious plot with a bizarre ending. Her second book, MOUNTING DESIRE, is a hysterical send-up of romance novels and also contains a quirky cast. When I saw that her third was coming out, I pre-ordered it. Well, it finally arrived and I read it in a day and a half.

BELIEVE ME is a slight departure from her normal writing. Sure, some of the characters are quirky and sure, there is a lot of humor, but the story is more, oh, I hate to use these words, as they are so overworked, poignant and heartwarming. This is the story of a young boy and his mother, each searching for something to cling to and believe in.

The story is told from the perspective of Nic Delany, whose mother is a devout atheist and whose father is a professor of comparative religions. Nic has fallen in with group of Christians, not just any Christians, but evangelical Christians and he begins to think about religion. He also thinks about all of the things a typical thirteen-year old boy thinks about. Things like video games and sex. The author does an admirable job writing in the first person and even though it's been forty years since I was a thirteen-year old, I found it very credible.

Nina Killham made me laugh, she made me smile, she made me think, and she brought a few tears to my eyes. I recommend this book to anyone and have already passed it on to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
While her husband the professor lives and works in Williamsburg as he has for the last two years, University of Maryland astrophysicist Lucy Delano raises their thirteen year old son Nicolaus Copernicus "Nic" Delano though dad sees him frequently. Lucy the atheist encourages Nic to ask questions on any topic as she insists none are stupid. However she has reconsidered her curiosity concept as lately Nic's interests veer towards two taboo topics: girls and religion; not that he asks mom much on either.

Nic finds suburban Christianity comforting when he ponders the free will of selecting a brand of crunchy peanut butter from eight choices while at the same time a kid his age in Pakistan has his house fall on his head. The Christians may not be able to answer his five whys except in some mystical mumbo jumbo (which is not that different than mom's naturist big bang theory), but Mrs. Porter bakes good cookies that provide comfort while mom buys cookies. Lucy is concerned about Nic not so much that he admires the long legs of his babysitter, but because his teen rebellion is heretical as he studies God forbid the bible. Mom knows she cannot excommunicate her son, but the bible in her mind was written by the first fantasists. However both reconsider their beliefs when illness strikes.

The key to this debate over whether there is a god is the low-keyed family approach to the question rather than the extremes pounding theories as scientific proof or gospel. Nic makes the tale from the onset starting with his simple peanut butter question and his continual search for the truth. Although the support cast is to religiously "correct", readers will appreciate Nic's quest especially why would God turn his back on an ailing child of his as his mom and dad would never do that to him.

Harriet Klausner
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