Posted by: teachergirl | November 8, 2011

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Genre: realistic fiction
Interest level: Age 10+
AR Level: 4.2

This is the story of a young girl’s journey into the Catholic faith.  Having been expelled from public middle school for stabbing a boy, 12 year old Abigail is forced to attend St. Catherine’s, a private Catholic school.  She first tries to be invisible, not wanting any attention from other students or teachers, but eventually finds her niche in the drama department, and a close friend to confide in.  Her non-religious (and non-attentive) parents are wary about the religious aspect of Abby’s education, and she picks up on this.  Seeking to anger and upset her parents, Abby announces that she wants to become Catholic and begins attending Mass and initiation classes.  She gets the reaction she wanted, because her parents are upset, and at first they forbid it and demonstrate how uncomfortable it makes them.  What Abby doesn’t tell them is that she doesn’t really believe.  The story culminates with her baptism, confirmation, and first communion at the Easter Vigil, with her parents there taking pictures, and Abby taking a leap of faith, deciding that she is willing to believe.

Leap of Faith is a well-written narrative of a topic that is often ignored, or explored in the reverse, in young adult literature – coming to faith.  Bradley’s characters are likeable and easy to relate to.  She discusses the nature of faith and religion in a very delicate way, addressing difficult questions like why are there evil people.  However, this is not a preachy book at all.  While she presents Christianity accurately, there is never the sense that Bradley wants her readers to convert.  I couldn’t say whether she is Catholic herself.  The story is about Abby, not religion.

I have to be honest. Although I doubt the purpose of this book is to encourage readers to become Catholic, it did influence me in that direction. I had already been considering the Catholic Church for several years and Leap of Faith gave me a fresh perspective on the Church and her beauty. Three years after reading this book, I converted. Of course, the book was one of many, many influences in making that decision. Someone not already thinking about it would not likely be as influenced.

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