I snapped this one up as soon as I read the first few lines of the inside cover, and it was a great read. Author Becky Weinheimer grew up in a strict religion (she doesn’t say which one) and knows firsthand the identity crisis caused by leaving a religion that controlled so many aspects of your life. I’m looking forward to reading more from her.
Kate is a strong young woman, who doesn’t even realize how mature she is. There are a number of interlacing issues in this story – homosexuality, religious and educational tolerance and censorship, coming of age, and love and attraction to name a few – but everything works well together in a way that makes sense to the reader. Most of the characters are likeable and high school readers will have much to which relate.
Okay, first of all, I just want to say that I really really liked this book. The plot was unique, it was set in Maine and the writing was really enjoyable to read. Now, moving on to the more “professional ” feedback. Beckie Weinheimer reminded me, yet again, why I love living in Maine. She was able to capture the sort of “crusty” nature of Mainers while also highlighting the strengths of the people. Kate Anderson is a 15-year-old young woman caught in the middle of a divorce. While her parents split when she was 10, the conflict is still not settled on the battlefield of religion.
After the divorce, Kate’s faith weakened and this causes turmoil between her and her mother. The black and white view of her mother’s church and the grayscale options of the new world around her cause Kate to examine her life and who she is. This book really looks at a lot of the internal struggles adolescents face — struggles that others may never really see. I think it’s a valuable book and could definitely be used in the classroom. I would like to use it as an example of how important setting is and as a way to illustrate to students that there are many of angles from which to tell a story.
Converting Kate seems like it would be appropriate for almost any age in the high school spectrum. I really liked this because it made me feel like I didn’t need to seek a certain audience to teach this text and I could really use it at my discretion without worrying too much about appropriateness. It’s a well-written book and I think students would really enjoy it. I think it could also be useful as a bridge to discussions about the moral issues surrounding religion, so this book really has multiple applications.
Converting Kate is an excellent book about a girl’s discovery of a wider world than the one she’s known. … Anyway, it’s an excellent book. Which may or may not leave you wanting to have a nice long chat about religion with the author.
Kate is a teenage girl living with her widowed mother. Her mother is a strict believer in the Holy Divine Church. Kate’s father was not, and read books such as To Kill a Mockingbird. After her father’s death, Kate explores her religion, much against her mother’s wishes.
This book encourages readers to explore their beliefs and learn new things. I would absolutely recommend this book — it was an outstanding book that I couldn’t put down. It was thoughtful, but not boring. Outstanding. — Miranda in Esopus
I liked the journey that Kate went on but I was sad that she didn’t realize that God lives in each of us and that a church
can be as flawed as the people that attend it, but that doesn’t mean that God can’t be there in a lot of its members. I
believe that the road that Kate takes is the most important, and that most teens take that path and everyone comes to
Please read CONVERTING KATE if you have any questions about your faith or want to find out about different faiths.
Converting Kate is a seemingly-controversial novel. The heavy biblical references might seem intimidating at first, but Beckie Weinheimer stretches the biblical concept to create questions that can be applied to any dogma. Weinheimer did a superb job in illustrating the need for young adults to re-evaluate their beliefs and question their conditioning. I recommend this novel for juniors and seniors in high school because that is the age students seek to find their own complex identity and understand themselves. Kate is a perfect reflection of the anxieties young adults experience and an even better example of how to handle life’s struggles.
I have read Converting Kate several times now and with each reading, find a different pearl of wisdom hidden within it’s pages. I have read it outloud on a long roadtrip with my partner and we both cried together over Kate’s journey seeing our own similar experiences in her “conversion.” I have also read it silently to myself – slowly pondering each chapter on completion. I always find a true mark of a great story whether on page, the movie screen or elsewhere to be one where the characters come alive in my mind and seem so real that weeks, months or years after experiencing their story I might stop and wonder what they are up to now … I can’t help but wonder what Kate is up to now.
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.
– Published Children’s Author
Square Books Jr. Reader
CONVERTING KATE, by Beckie Weinheimer, is a wonderful story about a girl who has to start her life over in a new town accross the country from her old home. This sudden move is caused by the death of her father. Her faith has been lost and her mother is as religious as ever, so their relationship has become a bit rocky. A beautiful coming of age story. — Kat Watson (age 14)
Barnes and Noble Readers
‘Converting Kate’ is a wonderful story that really moved me. I’m a teenager, like Kate who is confused about religion. This story is uplifting and I truly enjoyed it. – “a teenage girl who is learning”
‘Converting Kate’ is a deeply moving story revealing the challenges encountered during one year in the everyday life of a young girl. Kate shares her own doubts, her pain and anger, as well as her joys, all of which are part of this journey of self-discovery. Her rebellions against the religious fanaticism of her mother, may not cause a lasting bitterness, and her burning resentments may not preclude a fleeting awareness of the fears and needs of others, but Kate’s feelings are passionate. They are expressed to those who do not understand her, as well as to those who do. The most important contribution offered by this story is that it can make other young people feel less alone.
– “published author of religious history”
A Great Read – a review by MRose52 on Young Adult Books Central
“Converting Kate” is a novel about a teenager named Kate, who has just moved away from home. Throughout Kate’s life, she has followed her mother’s religious beliefs at the Church of the Holy Devine. This church is strict and demanding, controlling every aspect of its followers lives. They are told everything from how they should dress (in brown skirts to their ankles) to how long to pray (about two hours a day) to which books they should burn. Kate has always followed along with these rules, because by obeying them, her mother will love her, god will love her, and everything will be as He wills it to be. However, there is one small problem with this “paradise” Kate and her mother are set to create. Kate’s father. When Kate’s father dies, Kate and her mother move from there home to live with Kate’s aunt. Upon arrival, Kate re-discovers her father’s old books…the ones she never dared touch before. Books that her church would never allow. To learn more about the father she never knew while he was alive, Kate begins to read. When Kate’s mother finds out what Kate is doing, Kate is forced to decide; should she go along with what she has always thought was right, what her mother feels is right…and risk loosing her mother and her past? Or discover something more, find out what else might be out there…find out if she is wrong. Kate has to learn if it is more important to be secluded and safe in one’s beliefs, or to risk finding out something she might not find as comforting. When Kate begins to question her mother, she asks; “Has it ever, even once in your whole life, occurred to you that maybe God accepts other churches besides yours?” I ask in a voice that surprises me with its steadiness and calmness. I continue with a speech, one I’ve carefully prepared in my head for months. “Did you ever once wonder if maybe the Holy Devine Church isn’t as special as you think? I mean, isn’t it arrogant to think that a small group of people, who have inbred for generations and make it a practice not to study other religions, really have the monopoly of religious truth?”
I think that this novel is inspiring and extremely thought-provoking. It goes to depths that not many young adult novels have dared to reach. It’s theme is based in a complicated question that has been asked for centuries; Why are we here? However, this question is twisted into a more modern perspective; Is what I’m doing right? This is a question many teens, adults, and parents can relate to. This novel is for anyone of any race, religion, and viewpoint to enjoy. I believe this is a book that those of all opinions can read and love. This book is suspenseful in it’s own way and ultimately satisfying. A great read.
“Beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ~Converting Kate
This book is as much about growing up and breaking free as it is about the decisions we make about faith and beliefs — and thus touches deeply on many of the issues of coming of age. And while the endless bickering with Mom gets a bit wearing, especially since Kate seems to have already made her break with the Church from the start, there is much more to this story than simply breaking free. In this way, Weinheimer has created a story which goes the extra mile — showing us Kate’s journey to a place as well as where she is coming from. A tear-jerking and deeply moving story. Highly recommended.
This novel provides a depth and honesty that are rarely seen in teen books. The prejudices that are sometimes glossed over are discussed in a startlingly open way. Weinheimer smudges the lines that clearly box in what is right. The writing ranges from sorrow to humor to thoughtful, not what one would expect from a first novel. Cross-country competition runs throughout the story, and provided a neat overlap between Kate’s life before and after. Many will enjoy and continue to think on this long after finishing. Readers will close the cover with a different perspective. Amazing and deep. Will be eagerly watching to see what Weinheimer will srite next.
– 18 year old reader who said “Hard to imagine a better book” than converting kate for the 2008 Best Young Adult novels
As I know very few people who are rock sure about their faith or what they believe, I thought that “Converting Kate” was a wonderful book, one that made it ok to doubt, to think for yourself. A book about growing up in very important ways. Anyone who has doubts about what they believe, or anyone who is absolutely certain about their beliefs, or just anyone at all should read this book.
-17 year old reader who voted that converting kate should be chosen as a 2008 Best Young Adult novel
Gift Shoppers Paradise online store
As a former member of a highly rigid and judgemental fundamentalist church, l congratulate Beckie Weinheimer for getting it right. Without calling down judgement of her own, we enter Kate’s bifurcated world, where everyone and everything is either “right” (according to the values she has been raised with) or wrong (everything and everybody else). Kate’s turmoil as she questions her previously unexamined faith, and explores her place in that “other” world hits the nail on the head. lt is a carefully nuanced tale, for thoughtful readers who may be examining their own basic beliefs. 0h, yeah…it is also a book l was unable to put down until it was D0NE! Way to go, Kate and Beckie Weinheimer!
-“Recovering from religion”
I just finished Converting Kate by Beckie Weinheimer. Wow!!!!! I did not want this book to end and I found myself crying at the end. I NEVER cry! There have only been 2 other books that have made me cry – Corneila and Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters and Little Women! Now, I’ll have to add Converting Kate. Because of the religious and homosexual story lines running through it is definately a High School book (unless you’re like me and are much more liberal with what you let your own child read rather than what you recommend to other kids). The story really speaks to what some teens must face when trying to find their own identity away from their parents and how difficult walking that path can be.