Agnes and Honey are two best friends who have grown up in Mount Blessing, a religious commune in Cecilia Galante’s The Patron Saint of Butterflies. As they become teenagers, the differences between the two have really begun to surface. Agnes dreams of becoming a saint one day, and is constantly putting herself through rituals saints have used, such as sleeping on rocks and fasting. Honey, abandoned at the commune by her mother after she was born, is beginning to want to fight the strict rules of the commune; when the book opens, she is in trouble for kissing a boy. Agnes’ grandmother surprises everyone with a visit and soon discovers that the commune hides some dark secrets and decides she must get the 2 girls and Agnes’ little brother as far away from the place as possible. Thus begins a stressful road trip, where the 3 kids are exposed to life away from Mount Blessing for the first time, and the friendship between the two girls is pushed to the limits.
Overall, I liked this book. Part of the ending is predictable, but it wasn’t bad. I did like the surprise of who steps up to help the girls in the end. Books about communes and polygamy and different lifestyles like those are always interesting to me. I liked the relationship between Agnes and her brother; it felt realistic. After I finished the novel, I found myself wondering if Agnes’ parents always disliked Honey or if that developed as she grew older. If that was answered in the book, I missed it or forgot it. This is definitely not a light read. It’s emotional and hard at times to not be able to step in and help Agnes and Honey, but worth it. I also liked the cover of this book – very eye catching.