The Patron Saint of Butterflies, by Cecilia Galante
In The Patron Saint of Butterflies, Cecilia Galante paints a realistic picture of Agnes and Honey, two fourteen-year-old girls who have grown up together in a secluded commune in Connecticut called Mount Blessing. The leader, Emmanuel, deals out harsh punishment to those who don’t follow his strict rules. Agnes, from a powerful family in the commune structure, is a strong Believer and has decided to devote her life to becoming a saint. Honey, her orphaned best friend, lives with a handyman and helps him tend a butterfly garden. She secretly breaks the commune’s rules and wants more than anything to leave the compound and live a normal life.
Agnes’ grandmother unexpectedly visits the girls at the commune. After learning one of the darkest secrets the commune has been keeping, she kidnaps Honey, Agnes and Agnes’ little brother Benny who has been seriously injured. Their escape to a hospital and then to Agnes’ aunt’s house in Savannah, Georgia is a believable trip of fear, love and hope for these two teenagers.
According to her website, Galante herself grew up in a religious commune in upstate New York until she was about fourteen years old. It’s clear that her experiences, while different from those of Agnes and Honey, helped her develop the characters for this novel.
Check the WRL Catalog for Patron Saint of Butterflies