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Saint Training Hardcover – August 24, 2010
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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.
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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Being a mother, I also appreciate the author's skill in portraying Mary Clare's mother. A great story written with skill. I could not put this book down. I highly recommend it.
At any rate, the entire family/school/church experience was true-to-life for those who lived through this period (especially those of us who are Irish-Catholic like Mary Clare's family), and if you're not Catholic but want to try and understand what that experience was like, read this book--with an open mind. It will have you laughing out loud on one page and crying on the next one. It is a wonderful story.
One little nit-picking fact though: St. Therese of Lisieux-the Little Flower did not write "Interior Castle." That masterpiece was written by another Carmelite nun who was the founder of the Discalced Carmelites, St. Teresa of Avila. Thanks, Ms Fixmer, for a wonderful book and for the enjoyable trip down memory lane.
Mary Clare is one of nine children, with another on the way. Though she's only 12, she helps with her siblings and with the household a great deal, especially when her mother decides to go to work, which is frowned upon by the community. She knows that her parents are having financial troubles, and that another baby will be an additional strain, financially and emotionally. She begins writing the Mother Superior at a nearby convent, wondering what she might need to do to get ready to become a nun. She thinks that if she's extra good, all her family's trouble will disappear. She and Mother Monica begin a delightful correspondence in which Mary Clare ends up finding many answers about her thoughts on pacifism, women's rights, civil rights, and vocation.
Set in the 1960's, this story touches many of the issues of the time period: lightly on race, and specifically the involvement of the Catholic clergy in civil rights; but incorporates other issues of that time into the story such as women's rights and the Vietnam war.
CONTENT NOTE: This book doesn't have any objectionable content (swearing etc), however there is mature content in the way of the Vietnam war, and there is an allusion to marijuana usage by her older brother.
Most recent customer reviews
Life long Catholics will chuckle
I would have shared it if I could have shared it