Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature

Author: Robin Brande
Year: 2007
Genre: YA fiction

Mena begins her ninth grade year in a bit of an awkward situation: she comes from an evangelical family, but all the kids from her church are ostracizing her. ... Freaks of Nature is her diary, and as we follow the story, we learn what all the trouble is. It's the story of a girl who's learning to think for herself, and beginning to create an adult relationship with her parents.

I don't read a lot of this kind of book, so there's not much for me to compare it to. I do know that Brande is a bit misleading on the science. Of course, the evolution unit in Mena's biology class becomes a battleground for the fundamentalist kids, and evolution itself is treated as a metaphor for personal change. BUT! That means there's a lot of equivocation between character development and actual biological evolution, which does not happen in one individual's lifetime! I feel like the science teacher needs to come out at one point and say "Yes, that's very good, you feel like you're evolving, but that's not what I mean when I talk about natural selection."

Meaghan and I talked a lot about who the target audience must be for a book like this. It's certainly not addressed to the hard-core fundamentalists, who would probably take exception to their being portrayed as snotty teenagers. In the end, we decided that it might be intended for kids like Mena, who come from a religious background but are starting to question. On the other hand, it might be meant for kids like her boyfriend Casey, who know that most religious belief is ridiculous, but haven't had much to do with believers before.

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