Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman is a wonderful book. It can be found in the juvenile section of my local library and it's written for teens, but adults can also enjoy it. This adult certainly is. :)
It deals with everyday issues that teens can relate to: crushes, sibling rivalry, feelings of injustice, body image, and chocolate. Also, 11 year old Justine is trying to figure out religion.
Justine's family is Jewish, but she isn't overfond of the religion for various reasons, so she decides to become Catholic -- just like her best friend! But, she hasn't told her family. She's pretty sure that they won't take the news very well.
So Justine becomes a closet Catholic. Literally. She has confession with Father Ted (her teddy bear) in her closet, and holds communion in her closet. She's hidden away in her closet a cross that her Catholic friend lost at her house, a "cheat sheet" on how to say Hail Mary, and a rosary she bought.
Then her grandmother has a stroke. Justine can't help but feel that this is her fault, and that it is God's way of punishing her for questioning the faith she was raised in. She feels responsible for the stroke but she doesn't confide in anyone, because she still doesn't want her family to know that she's Catholic. The guilt builds as she watches her grandmother's recovery, and she continues to question what she believes.
In spite of the serious nature of the book it manages to remain funny. For example, the explanation in the first chapter of how she ruled out various other religions before deciding to become Catholic; she decided she couldn't become Buddhist because when she tried to meditate she could only think about how much her butt hurt from sitting on the floor, and found herself figuring out how many zits she would get per chocolate bar.
Littman has created a very believable character that you can't help but love as she struggles to find her own identity. There are some real gems in the book (actually the whole book is a gem, so these are just extra special gems) such as the following passage that I would like to end this with:
"Sometimes, I wonder if Jesus, Allah, and God are all the same person. I imagine that J-A-G person sitting up there in heaven, shaking His head with tears in His eyes because He can't understand why His children are fighting and killing one another in His various names, not realizing that they're all praying to the same guy."
This was first posted on my blog A College Girl's Days on 1/4/10