This is an arc that I picked up at BEA, but now it is out in the stores.
Evolution is a weird thing to me. I mean, I grew up going to church and everything, but nobody ever made me question science. In high school, bio was my most prized subject. The whole debate around the idea of "intelligent design" is something that I find fascinating and scary at the same time. Robin Brande's Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature is poised perfectly to be banned and championed.
Mena has been kicked out of her church. Yes, kicked out. And the thing of it is, her parents are still going! She is dreading her first day of high school since most of the kids in her old church go there. In her own words, "When you're single-handedly responsible for getting your church, your pastor, and every one of your former friends and their parents sued for millions of dollars, you expect to make some enemies". (p.1) (Ironically, Mena got kicked out for doing the right thing!)
There are more changes for Mena besides just being ostracized from the holy rollers at school. She is partnered up with whiz kid Casey in science, and the teacher Ms. Shepard is like nobody that Mena has ever met before. And since all of her extra-curricular activities used to be church related, what the heck else does she have to do with her time, but study and work on her science project with Casey.
But here's the thing. Even though she's been kicked out of church, Mena still has to follow the rules. Which means no being alone with boys. Casey's a boy. The lies start. Mena is not comfortable lying to her parents, even if they are being pretty horrible to her. She is really in an awkward spot. Her belief system has been ripped out from under her, she's learning all kinds of new things, but she is still trying to hold onto her faith.
I think this is an amazing coming of age story, that isn't just a Christian story. It's the push/pull of needing guidance and independence in equal measure. I love who Mena is, and even though Casey and his family are almost too good to be true, readers will find themselves anxiously turning the pages to see what happens.