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by Donna Freitas

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: June 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-374-31472-9
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Freitas, whose first novel (The Possibilities of Sainthood, 2008) dealt lightly with love and Catholicism, here takes on abusive priests. Fatherless, beautiful 17-year-old Olivia cannot believe her luck when famous author-priest-professor Father Mark takes her under his wing. He never touches her, but Olivia’s initial delight soon becomes discomfort as he demands more and more time and attention, using his authority to control Olivia. While a compelling premise, far too much action takes place off-page; Olivia narrates that there were so many meetings and phone calls, but readers rarely see them, distancing any sense of tension or oppression. Moreover, Father Mark’s attention is so overt—Olivia’s friends and boyfriend repeatedly comment on it; he send packages to her at school and leaves letters at her door—that it is hard to believe no one notices the inappropriateness of his attention, especially given that characters discuss priestly abuse and closing parishes at one point. Icky but ultimately unexciting, this one could have used a little levity or, failing that, some genuine tension. (Fiction. 12 & up)