The new kid at school comes into conflict with the administration's faith-based agenda.
After moving from Massachusetts to Colorado with his family, Ben enrolls in a Christian high school despite his lack of a religious background. His atheism causes him to butt heads with his fellow classmates and teachers, leaving him alone and unpopular. His only friends are Tess, the pretty girl next door, and James, the pathetic son of the local drunk. Ben gives church a try, but it leaves him cold, as does the science teacher's insistence on biblical teachings. The author crams in debates over a variety of hot topics including religious persecution, homophobia and creationism in the classroom. Unfortunately she neglects to supply the novel with well-developed characters, a solid plot or narrative drive. This isn't drama; it's a Very Special Episode of a sitcom, full of dialogic set pieces that explore the issues. The characters sound less like people and more like bullet points of arguments. This would be OK if the author actually took a firm stand on any issue, but in the end, readers are left with the notion that things would be a whole lot better if we all just respected each other's views, as if this were a sudden, revelatory concept.
A sermon with too little to say. (Fiction. 12-16)