Richly multilayered characters, portrayed with empathy, make this debut novel a strong addition to a growing body of works about adolescents seeking to reconcile the cohesive faith of childhood with the fractured religious diversity of the adult world.
In a book about examining religion, it is all too easy to make many characters stereotypes. Weinheimer, however, has expertly created characters that are all sympathetic in their own way. For example, Kate’s decision to attend another church, rather than loosing faith in God altogether, is a realistic choice that is not often illustrated in a book about overbearing religions. Kate’s opinions of the people around her are in constant flux, again, reflecting real life. Easily accessible to people from all sorts of (or lack of) religious backgrounds, Converting Kate is an excellent coming-of-age novel.
Many young people discover that a challenging task of adolescence is to figure out what religious faith is their own and what is juart of what they have been taught. Converting Kate tells this basist pc story with compassion and intelligence. * Starred Review March 2007
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
The book also makes clear that Kate is demonizing her mother and sanctifying her father when the truth is somewhat more complicated, even as Kate’s struggles against her mother’s strictures are legitimate and sympathetically depicted. Religion and religious differences are serious issues to many young adults, and even those breaking from their parents on more secular fronts will sympathize with Kate’s struggle. – Deborah Stevenson
Faced with daily situations that challenge what she’s been taught, Kate questions her views about religion, and her inner conflict shows the great effort it takes for her to disentangle herself from the church’s teachings, which intrude into her thoughts unbidden (often represented by italics). Despite her sheltered upbringing, Kate emerges as a strong, self-reliant young woman who is not afraid to question authority. Her plight will likely strike a chord with any teen who has struggled with a belief system that has been handed to them.
The Midwest Book Review:
A welcome and highly recommended addition to highschool and community library fiction collections, “Converting Kate” is deftly written, inherently fascinating, consistently entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking reading by anyone of any age.
School Library Journal:
But the real story is Kate’s heartfelt search for beliefs in which she has confidence—discoveries requiring effort, courage, and strength, especially in the face of causing pain to her mother. — Joel Shoemaker
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates):
Weinheimer creates a credible first novel, less clunky than many other debut attempts, with a strongly felt setting and smooth dialogue. Kate’s arguments with her mother over her numerous departures from “church teachings” ring true and evoke Kate’s grief, frustration, and love for her restrictive mother.
South Jordan, UT, Middle School Librarian
“…the novel is a very good look at the need for teens to work things out for themselves and take charge of their own lives. There are references to pornography and homosexuality, not in a titillating fashion, but as issues in religion that need to be discussed. Altogether, this title would be a fine addition to a YA collection. MS, HS – ESSENTIAL”
This thoughtful story presents an odd form of religious rebellion – a teenager rejecting the extremely provincial church embraced by her devout mother. Does the (fictional) Holy Divine Church truly own exclusive rights to God and heaven? Formerly homeschooled Kate was brought up to think so, but now is entertaining doubts about being told what to think, how to dress and what to read or see. When Kate starts attending a more conventional church, Kate’s mother feels horribly betrayed – hey, Kate’s mother! Go read “The Opposite of Music” for a reality check – that turns out to be led by a gay pastor. Even the conventional congregation isn’t down with Friends of Dorothy, though, posing Kate with the problem of losing her religion almost as soon as she finds it.