Agnes and Honey have been best friends since they were born. They both live, along with 260 others, in a religious commune called Mount Blessings. Here they abide by severe rules and try to live the most perfect life possible, except there are some horrendous not so perfect secrets that are kept. As Honey and Agnes get older their personalities drift apart, until they are complete opposites of each other. Agnes wants nothing more than to be a saint, while Honey wants to leave the commune and never look back. When Agnes’ grandma, Nana Pete, comes for an unexpected visit she is horrified to learn one of the most horrendous secrets about the commune and immediately takes Agnes, Honey, and Agnes’ brother Benny out of Mount Blessings. Honey is overjoyed to finally be out of the grasps of the commune and is thoroughly enjoying Big Macs, driving a car, and shopping at everyone’s favorite Wal-Mart. Agnes on the other hand is scared to death and feels like it’s a sin just to be outside of the commune. She can’t find any joy in buying ribbons for her hair or buying scented shampoo and knows she must find a way back to Mount Blessings. When a secret is finally unearthed both girls learn that they need to dig deep inside themselves to find the courage to survive and make the right decisions.
This is a stunning, incredible, and heartfelt novel. I instantly fell in love with the book when I saw the cover and then was completely shocked with the actual story. It was completely amazing. Agnes and Honey were deep characters that I was really able to connect with. The book also had a completely different level of emotion in it that I hadn’t really experienced before. I could really tell that the author was writing from her heart and that made me enjoy the story even more. The author addressed so many different points in this novel such as friendship, family, and the ability to ask for help. I also loved the setting of the book. I’d never really even heard about religious communes before reading this book and realized that I like being able to live my life the way I want and not have to be always bound by rules. Some points that Cecilia Galante made about religion also really spoke to me. I found it really ironic that I read two books that had so much to do with religion back-to-back (Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult) and found that a few points showed up in both books. What surprised me the most though is that this is the author’s first novel. The writing was so eloquent and put together that I was stunned. I can’t wait to see what Cecilia Galante has coming our way next, in fact her next book, Hershey Herself, comes out in May.