Beckie Weinheimer’s debut novel, Converting Kate, has converted me into a true believer in her talent. This book, which explores a young girl’s break with an evangelical religion, is lyrical and at times, magical. Her juxtapositioning of quotes from the tenets of the Church of the Holy Divine with quotes from great books is a compelling story in itself. And Kate is such a wonderful character with such gut-wrenching, true emotions, that the reader is enthralled from the first page. This masterful exploration of zealot beliefs couldn’t have come at a better time and is a must read for all young adults.
— Moira Donohue
Alfie and the Apostrophe
Beckie Weinheimer takes many of the compelling issues facing us today and addresses them on a personal level in the form of 15 year old Kate. Kate must deal with some universal problems such as divorce, the death of a parent, a new home and new school, as well as some very topical issues like homophobia and fundamentalist religion and dogma. While her mother still follows their fundamentalist church, Kate has more and more questions about its fairness, tolerance and compassion. Like many teens, Kate often feels unsure, frustrated, misunderstood but she gradually feels her way through a host of new experiences and finds her way into a world of her own making. CONVERTING KATE is the powerful story of a young woman facing many changes in her life and handling them with a combination of guts and grace.
— Kathryn Erskine
Quaking and Ibhubesi: The Lion and Mockingbird
Converting Kate gives us a poignant yet uplifting picture of a teenager reared in a fundamentalist church who grieves over multiple losses: her parents’ divorce; her father’s death, for which her mother refused a funeral because of his unbelief; and a cross-country move separating Kate from family and life-long friends. Adjusting to her new situation, she struggles against the strictures of both her mother and the church, from which Kate slowly moves away. Through her mother’s actions we are given glimpses of the ethical lapses such religious groups tolerate in the name of bringing others into the fold, behaviors propelling Kate into friendships with more tolerant friends as well as attendance at a mainline Protestant church. Issues of homophobia also play a part in the story as Kate observes the intolerance of her own church manifested in others, as well. In small, beautifully wrought segments, bits of memorized church dogma in Kate’s thoughts gradually give way to quotations from the books her father treasured and bequeathed to her. If you have teenagers in your family, buy Converting Kate, not only for its compelling story, but as armor against religious intolerance.
— Sheila Holsinger
Kate Anderson is beginning to think. Thinking takes energy, time, and space, and because it can be a painful process, it often takes courage. Kate must think about her God, her father, her mother, her classmates, and herself with this courage. Weinheimer, in going through her own version of this process, has had to re-evaluate the things she thought were true, knowing that when she was done they might not be true any more. She transfers this journey lovingly, tenderly, and credibly to her teenaged protagonist. The kind of thinking Weinheimer is endorsing is the kind that makes Kate–or anyone–more herself than she was before. More true to herself. And, therefore, more true to the world and to whatever spiritual or ethical life she chooses to follow.
— Robin Reardon
A Secret Edge
Thinking Straight (May 2008)