Hello and welcome to the first episode of books links. This is a new idea that I am going to be trying out with some of my book reviews! The main premise of book links is that I review the book (spoiler-free) and then discuss a topic related to the book, does that make sense? If not, don’t worry, it will.
The book we will be discussing today is…*drumroll please*
Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
Rating: ✰✰✰✰.5 / 5
Where I Got It: I was kindly sent an ARC of this book from the team at Harper360
One Line Thought: This book was hilarious and real.
Page Count: 329
Release Date: August 7th 2018
Book Link: My thoughts on religion…
Heretics Anonymous follows Michael, an atheist, as he is forced to join Catholic school at the beginning of the academic year. He’s already prepared for the year to be hell which is why he is on the lookout for someone that might be like him, a non-believer. So when Lucy, a girl in his theology class, argues against the teacher that what she is saying is false, Michael thinks he might have found the person for him. However, it turns out Lucy isn’t a non-believer, she’s Catholic and wants to be a Priest. But, Lucy introduces Michael to others at the school that doesn’t quite fit in with their beliefs and so he is introduced to the underground group, ‘Heretics Anonymous’ who end up trying to change the schools harmful, traditional ways.
I loved Heretics Anonymous. It was funny and thought-provoking all at the same time. As an atheist, I related to the character of Michael tremendously, even if he was a bit of an ass-hole character. His thoughts and reactions to being sent to St. Clare’s – the Catholic school – was how I would react to a certain degree. However, what I loved most about Michael was his character development. At the beginning of this book he is very closed minded to other religions but through Heretics Anonymous, he grows as a character and understands what religion is to people and why some people are religious.
The representation in this book is diverse and although I can’t speak for most of it, from what I’ve heard it seems to have been portrayed in a great way. We have Michael an atheist, Lucy who is a Colombian-American feminist Catholic, Avi is Jewish and Gay, Eden is a Celtic Reconstructionist Polytheist with Irish heritage and Max is a Korean-American Unitarian. Putting all these characters into one book could be a train-wreck or it couple be magnificent, and Heretics Anonymous was definitely the latter.
I have two favourite things about this book. The first being how each of the characters bounced off one another and challenged each other. They point out the flaws in each other’s beliefs but the author also manages to show the good in each religion. Religion in this book is imperfect and it is shown as so but it also encourages people to try and modernise their religion and let it grow and coincide with other beliefs.
My other favourite thing about this book is how although Lucy and Michael didn’t see eye to eye on their thoughts of religion when they wanted to show they cared they would use the other person’s beliefs because they knew that was important to them.
However, the reason I didn’t give this book five stars was because I thought the romance could have been toned down a bit. I went into this book wanting a commentary on religion and that is what I got but with a tablespoon of romance. It takes a lot for me to fully appreciate a romance in a book and therefore, I think the relationship in this book was wasted on me, however, I do understand why the author included it in the way that she did.
Overall, this book was the funny and thought-provoking book that I both needed and wanted. It allowed me to question what I believed in as well as look at religion from other perspectives. If you’re looking for a quick contemporary that isn’t just fluffy but isn’t going to make you cry either then I would say this is the book for you.
Now it’s time for the ‘link’ portion of this post, where I discuss something related to the book at hand and today that is…
My Thoughts on Religion.
Before I get into my thoughts I just want to add a disclaimer that I do not mean to offend or disrespect anyone or anyone’s religion in any way and if I do please let me know so I can amend it.
I am an atheist. I have identified as an atheist since I properly understood religion and beliefs. However, I was born a Protestant Christian. My parents, not being the most devout Christians would identify as such and therefore I was christened as a baby.
When I first identified as an atheist I was challenged slightly by my family without them realising it. Since I was young, I don’t think they quite believed that I knew what I was talking about but here we are now. However, I have always been open to debate regarding my beliefs and others but I do think I have had some personal growth in relation to this topic in the past few years.
When I was 14/15 I was a lot less open-minded than I am now. I wouldn’t disrespect you or your religion but I did think it was all a load of unimportant rubbish. Now, I am not exactly open-minded to becoming religious, but I am a lot more understanding of why people do believe and what it means to them.
For me, personally, religion and holy books are just stories. I don’t believe in the possibility of a God or anything like that. I am also quite pessimistic, so even if there was a God, I don’t think I could worship it because of the negativity in the world. There is also a part of me that doesn’t like religion because of what it makes some people do. I understand that this is a minority but it is still relevant in today’s society. For example, queer people being discriminated against because it is ‘against the bible’. I do try to put my dislike on these people rather than the religion but change takes a long time and I disliked religion for a long time but I am getting there.
Saying this, I understand why people are religious and the main reason why I think many people are religious is for comfort. It is comforting to believe in an afterlife where you will be reunited with your loved ones or to believe someone is looking over you. In a way, I wish I could believe this so that I could have this comfort. Or, people are religious because it’s a part of their culture and I am sure there are a million and one different reasons as to why people are religious. What I am trying to say is that I understand why people are religious or at least I am trying to.
What are your thoughts on religion? Are you religious yourself? Let me know in the comments but please keeps things kind and respectful.
Also, remember to pick up a copy of Heretics Anonymous if you see it in your local library or bookstore!
Thanks for reading!