Thanks to a dad who is rapidly climbing the corporate ladder, Michael Ausman has moved four times in ten years. Once again he is starting over at a new school in a new town, this time at a private Catholic high school where he knows no one and is not even Catholic. Not only is he not Catholic, he has no use for religion at all. As fortune-chance-anything but predestination would have it, he quickly makes friends with a motley group of students (Colombian Lucy Pena who wants to be a priest and whose mother has run away, abandoning the family; Avi, a Jewish gay student with helicopter parents; Eden, a practicing Celtic polytheist; and Max, whose unorthodox way of dressing puts him constantly in conflict with school administration). These new friends invite him to join their Heretics Anonymous club that meets secretly in an abandoned, tucked-away janitor’s closet.
Grateful to have any friends at all to share lunchtime with in the school dining room, Michael gradually learns their various idiosyncrasies, challenges and belief systems. The club decides to anonymously publicize the group in order to fight what they perceive as injustices perpetuated by the school administration (dress code issues, LGBTQIA issues, free speech issues, etc.). He enthusiastically throws himself into subversive actions that ultimately threaten his relationships with his friends and family and also his continuance at the school.
Although two reviewer comments on the back of the book jacket mention the “hilarity” of HERETICS ANONYMOUS, that’s quite the exaggeration. Some of the situations and dialogues are really funny, but essentially the book deals with the various struggles of the main characters to find some kind of framework on which to hang their existences. By the end of the book most of the characters show growth.
The language is profane at times, particularly to Christians, and offensive words and sexual references are frequent.
Categories: Diversity, LGBTQIA, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Political Activism, Religion
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