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Saint Training Hardcover – August 24, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz; 1st Printing edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310720184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310720188
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,917,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–Sixth-grader Mary Clare is the oldest girl in a large Catholic family. The year is 1967, and with only her father working, her family is struggling financially. She fears that her mother, who is expecting yet another child, is losing her faith. On top of all this, her beloved older brother receives his draft notice for the Vietnam War. Wanting to help her family with all of their problems, Mary Clare decides to become a saint. She makes bargains with God in exchange for His help, but worries she might not be saint material. (She passes notes in class.) The story is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious. Unfortunately, the very thing that makes it unique may limit its audience. The novel is so steeped in Roman Catholicism that it's best appreciated by those who have had a parochial-school education or are familiar with the history of the faith, especially the changes brought by Vatican II and what they meant for practicing Catholics. Glimpses into the Civil Rights and Women's Liberation Movements of the 1960s and the role religion played in both heighten the sense of time and place.–Kelly Roth, Bartow County Public Library, Cartersville, GAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In her debut novel, Fixmer takes a look back at the roiling 1960s, when everything was in flux, even the traditions of the Catholic Church. Mary Clare is one of nine children (another’s on the way), and it seems one strategy for bringing order into her life is to become a saint. Well, first a nun and then a saint. So Mary Clare resolves to forgo sin, but she soon learns that black and white can unexpectedly turn into gray. When it comes to matters of family, friendship, religion, even war and race relations, the path is not always clear. Fixmer hits every hot-button topic of the day, including Mary Clare’s mother’s burgeoning feminism. Fewer issues more fully explored might have been a wiser editorial choice, but there’s no doubt this gives readers a strong sense of what was happening during this turbulent time. Smartly delineated in part through letters to a nun, Mary Clare’s story is wonderfully realized, and readers will find themselves pulling hard for her as she tries to do her best. Grades 5-7. --Ilene Cooper

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Customer Reviews

I will anxiously await the next book by this author.
Eileen Shupp
This book made me feel as though I had insight into what being a Catholic school girl in the 1960s would be like.
Amazon Customer
It is very cute and you really "root" for the main character!
J. Tucker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Laurel K on September 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book for two reasons. The first is that it brings the late 60's and its issues to readers who weren't there. The second is that it provokes you to ask questions about how you are living your life and whether you are living up to your childhood dreams and promises that you made to yourself and to your God.

This book made me cry and laugh out-loud. As the previous reviewer wrote, it is not a quick read, but the pace makes the reader think about the moral questions being posed in the context of those times. And who wants a book to end quickly? I believe that this book will serve as great source material in a cultural context of a Catholic girl in 1967.

I am an adult and will have my 7th grade daughter read it next as it is targeted to her age group.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nela on November 10, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first have to say, I'm an avid reader. I'm a new muslim, i went to catholic school when I was younger as my father's family is catholic. This book is ON POINT with how she author really conveys this girl and her family. one of 9 children, vietnam going on, trying to be good in her faith and yet maintain her friendships. as a 7th grade girl there are a lot of societal expectations then having a mother who wants to work, a father who doesnt want her to, a brother who wants to avoid the draft and another brother yearning to join up, younger siblings to watch...this book ties it all together in a way that is fresh and makes it a true PAGE TURNER. You will want to se how she handles herself, what happens to her, morals, ethics, to convert friends or not convert them, all sorts. Enjoy, i know i did.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katie P on November 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a sweet book and an easy read. For the most part, I enjoyed it. It tells the story of a 6th grade girl trying to navigate her personal beliefs system during a tumultuous time in the Catholic Church. I thought it was a relatively unique idea with story lines that were interesting enough to keep you reading.

I do have two complaints, however. First (and most irritating to me), the book refers frequently to "St. Theresa, the Little Flower" who "wrote The Interior Castle". This is a huge error. St. Therese is the Little Flower, while St. Theresa of Avila is the saint who wrote The Interior Castle. I am very surprised that this error made it into the book unchecked. Any Catholic familiar with their saints in any way would catch this.

Second, it seemed that many of the story lines which took the entire book to develop were wrapped up in a hurry at the end. There was a good amount of detail throughout the book, then I felt as if the author tried to quickly tie everything up in a neat package in the last pages. One story line in particular had a huge development at the end and then suddenly the book was over. I would have preferred that the twist to that story line never occurred because it was not given the attention I thought it required.

Overall, it was a good read, though I can't say I'll read it again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elva Moser on November 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i'm about 1/2 way through this book. i'm loving it. i've cried as much as i've laughed. as a catholic school victim(!!), i can really relate to 6th grade narrator, mary clare's, questions. the story is set in 1967 and mary clare has lots of questions!

mary clare begins a correspondence / friendship with a mother superior from another state and this woman becomes her mentor. mary clare believes that if she becomes a saint, god may like her better and then her family have an easier time financially.

mary clare is a pretty smart pre-teen from a large (and growing) catholic family, attending a catholic school. as the oldest daughter she learned responsibility early. she observes and questions many difficult situations (vietnam war, friendship, marijuana use, religion, financial difficulties, unplanned pregnancies, birth control, the women's liberation movement, sacrifices for family - and more)and then tries to make sense of them.

if you're catholic and went to catholic school, you'll see yourself somewhere in this book. if you're not catholic, you may now understand why we're so weird!! (haha!)

i recommend this book, if all you get out of it is seeing that era through the eyes of a young girl, it's worth it. (you'll get more out of it than that though!).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Saint Training is the story of sixth grader Mary Clare O'Brian, one of nine children growing up in the turbulent sixties. The author has created a wonderful character in Mary Clare, and it is her deft characterization that shoves this book up into a three star rating. Mary Clare's struggles with her faith, her family, and just growing up all have the ring of truth to them. She is a character that is easy to care about.

The author takes an unflinching look at this time period and brings in pretty much every issue of the day. Mary Clare struggles with the issues of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, Betty Friedan, her mom's depression, and even birth control. She seems consumed by concerns about the changes of Vatican II. Her mom is going to work outside the home, and her brother is becoming a conscientious objector. If this seems like a lot, believe me it is. This book is so crowded that the narrative really suffers. Events that should have been incredibly dramatic and poignant are left merely piled up on the laundry list of issues that the author has laid out for the reader. The book would have been far better served if the author would have concentrated on one or two of these things and then more fully explored how Mary Clare and the O'Brian family dealt with them. This tirade of the times left me feeling rather annoyed.

I think this might have some appeal for young Catholic adults interested in the Church's role during this time period. The character of Mary Clare is strong enough to steer them through a story that even though muddled, will still provide some insight. For the general reader, I feel that most young people will have problems sticking with this story filled with dialogue that is sometimes forced, and heavy doses of history and religion that are presented in a very heavy handed manner. It seems to me that the narrative was not the priority here, so this is not a recommend.
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