Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

To find more books by your favorite author, click on the author's name in the title...

Also, try searching by "historical fiction" if you're looking for novels at a certain time period...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Olivia and the Little Way by Nancy Carabio Belanger

It has been awhile since all three of my girls, ages 8 – 14, clamored to get their hands on a book before I could finish reading it aloud. I'm so glad it was this particular book.

It’s not hard to find a book that deals with problems like: moving to a new place, trying to fit in, or fear of being shunned by popular kids. But few pop books get straight to the heart of the matter: it’s spiritual warfare.

Children instinctively know that the “forming your own values” message, (the best modern society can offer them), doesn’t hold a candle to the fact that their fallen human nature is in conflict with their desire to please God. They can relate to this truth. When faced with “mean kids” and peer pressure, the call to love is one they want to answer but nothing short of the call from heaven and power of grace will be enough to stand firm and choose to be a social outcast if that’s what it takes to do what’s right.

Olivia has to work through this dilemma when she moves from Texas and switches to a new Catholic school in Michigan.

Because she is Catholic, she is not alone in her struggle. She has God and His friends rooting for her. Her grandmother has introduced her to one of God’s dear saints: Therese of Lisieux. Olivia has begun to learn and listen to the life and voice of this humble saint. It is with the added prayers of Therese before the throne of God that Olivia overcomes her own weaknesses and learns to exercise true charity

In the end, there is no good guys vs. bad guys, but instead a growth in understanding and grace for all. Of course, no saint would pray for less.

Thoroughly enjoy….

…the quotes from St. Therese’s life that begin each chapter are lovely bonus.

Do not weep for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.

I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.
~St. Therese


See: Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Communion of the church of heaven and earth 955
The intercession of the saints


Beth,  March 20, 2011 at 8:44 PM  

Hi, Kim!

I'm enjoying reading your reviews of specifically Catholic-themed books. Are you reviewing any Catholic historical fiction (really fictional fiction)? My son is in the middle of Fingal's Quest, and so far we think this book is excellent! It follows the story of Fingal, a young boy (age 11, I think?) who's traveled to Bangor monastery to study, in hope of becoming a monk himself someday. One special thing about this book is that a major part of the plot is the love and burning admiration that Fingal holds for his master, (St.) Columban. This hero-worship a boy feels for a man he admires is a reality of life for many boys (and girls), and I love that the book deals with it so sensitively. I don't see this aspect of the book mentioned in the synopses I've seen on Amazon and on Catholic education sites, but I know that it resonates with my son. This is like Harry Potter's admiration for Prof. Dumbledore, magnified a thousand times. Of course, we all feel nervous about our children loving adult mentors too much--but in this case the true saintly character of the mentor leads to serious lessons about loving Christ in others rather than loving others as substitutes for God. This applies to the important challenge of learning to tell a crush from the real thing. Anyway--I'd be happy to see the book get attention because I think it's really neat.

Thanks for your work!


PS: I haven't finished this book yet, and it occurs to me that St. Columban might have had a real protege who also became a saint, changing his name from Fingal to... something. If so, I'll sure feel silly for calling this pure fiction. But my request for a review still would stand!

Tween Lit Crit March 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM  

love the suggestion... I'm on it. I'm not reviewing any Catholic historical fiction at the moment, but I'll have about 5 reviews in a row ready soon. I'm also moving, so I tend to slow down and then publish a bunch in a row....

I'm including The Mysterious Benedict Society... and having fun re-reading it thanks to you. Have a great day. Hope it's sunny (we lack that where I live)....

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