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The Patron Saint of Butterflies

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  1,441 ratings  ·  269 reviews
Agnes and Honey have always been best friends, but they haven't always been so different. Agnes loves being a Believer. She knows the rules at the Mount Blessing religious commune are there to make her a better person. Honey hates Mount Blessing and the control Emmanuel, their leader, has over her life. The only bright spot is the butterfly garden she's helping to build, a ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published January 1st 368)
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Community Reviews

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The story of two teenage girls are raised in seclusion on a religious commune until long hidden secrets begin to reveal themselves. I have to admit that I am pretty interested in the stories of people who live outside of regular society like this, and it was a pretty fast read.

The alternating voices of Agnes and Honey didn't work particularly well for me, especially since I found Agnes so much more believable than Honey. I read here that the author had originally written this only from Agnes' p
Apr 04, 2008 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Little
Shelves: starred
This might actually be a five-star book for me -- haven't decided yet. Let's call it 4.5 for now...
I don’t know what it says about me as a person, friends, that I kept expecting everything in The Patron Saint of Butterflies to be worse.

Let me explain.

So Agnes and Honey, our two protagonists, are growing up in a cult. They keep getting summoned to the Regulation Room by Emmanuel, their completely evil cult leader, who clearly watched too many YouTube videos and was like, “Hell, I could do that!” and then next thing you know he’s got two hundred followers and a shit-ton of money and is forbiddi
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Tasha for

Agnes and Honey have been best friends since they were born. They both live, along with 260 others, in a religious commune called Mount Blessings. Here they abide by severe rules and try to live the most perfect life possible, except that there are some horrendous and not-so-perfect secrets that are kept.

As Honey and Agnes get older, their personalities drift apart, until they are complete opposites of each other. Agnes wants nothing more than to be a saint
Agnes and Honey have always been best friends, but they haven’t always been so different. Agnes loves being a Believer. She knows the rules at the Mount Blessing religious commune are there to make her a better person. Honey hates Mount Blessing and the control Emmanuel, their leader, has over her life. The only bright spot is the butterfly garden she’s helping to build, and the journal of butterflies that she keeps. When Agnes’s grandmother makes an unexpected visit to the commune, she discover ...more
I loved this book. I read it in about a 8 hour block - it would have been in one sitting except my husband wanted to watch a movie with me. It was a touching story of friendship and faith, and it gave (what seemed to be) a realistic view into what life might be like in a sect that is secluded from the world.

The story rotates between Honey and Agnes, and they both have very distinctive personalities. I don't really understand how Honey was able to become as rebellious as she was - she had lived i
This beautifully written first novel tells the story of two best friends that have been brought through childhood living on a religious commune called Mount Blessing in Connecticut. Agnes, whose name means lamb, has hopes of becoming a saint as she follows Emmanuel, the leader of the commune, devoutly in all matters. Her best friend Honey is an orphan by virtue of the fact that her mother abandoned the commune right after Honey was born.

All the children on the commune are taken away from their p
May 30, 2008 Julie added it
Shelves: young-adult
Ingram's Advance Magazine Supplement for teens recently featured an interview with author Cecilia Galante, which left me really eager to read this book--and it did not disappoint!

14 y.o.'s Agnes and Honey are best friends born and raised in a religious commune in CT. Whereas Agnes accepts everything their leader Emmanuel tells them and strives to be a saint, Honey longs for freedom from false pretenses and harsh rules.

When Agnes' grandmother Nana Pete shows up for an unexpected visit, she learns
Am I picky and demanding, or is "plot" the new "quality" (that's a rhetorical question, people, capiche?) (OK, so maybe both are true)? I thought The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante was great, but it would have been a real stunner if the literary loose screws were tightened up. More evocative descriptions, better character nuances, leaner word choice, and most of all an original voice... it pains me more than usual with this book, because, dammit, it could have been a masterpiece! ...more
The story begins in a commune named Mount Blessing in Fairfield, Connecticut. It houses about 260 followers of its founder, Emmanuel. Agnes and Honey, fourteen year old girls, are members of this commune. Agnes strives hard to follow all that Emmanuel teaches and wants to be a good “Believer”. Honey, however, is not too sure about the things they are learning and doing. The two girls have been friends for a long time, but they may not be as much alike as they thought. Agnes’ little brother gets ...more

Agnes and Honey have been best friends since they slept next to each other as babies in the communal nursery. Recently, though, Agnes has started taking her quest for spiritual perfection to a level that Honey thinks is a little crazy. Life in the commune has taught them to avoid music and television, to pray constantly and to strive for absolute obedience to God's will - as defined through Emmanuel, their communal leader. What life in the commune did NOT teach them was how to think for themselv
Luciana Herman
Feb 16, 2010 Luciana Herman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes strong, smart female characters
I heard Cecelia Galante read a selection from this book, and I was so impressed with the voice of her characters that I knew I needed to read this. This tale is as much about friendship as it is about self discovery, and Galante masterfully shows us the story from the point of view of two characters, Honey and Agnes. Although they are opposites, they are irrevocably bound by their friendship. As the story progresses, we aren't sure if their friendship will survive the strains of the extreme situ ...more
May 20, 2008 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
This is a really interesting inside look at religious communes, especially given what is going on in the world right now. Thought provoking, without being preachy, this book examines how communities like this become their own little societies, with their own governments, religions, rules, leaders, and beliefs indoctrinating those who live there so they almost become brainwashed and can't think for themselves. While clearly a work of fiction, it is obviously routed in fact. The author was born in ...more
This is an excellent & well written story.

Agnes (a practicing saint-wannabe) & Honey (a rule breaker) are best friends who live at Mount Blessing, a cult like religious commune with Agnes' parents.....Honey's mother has run away from the commune just after Honey's birth.

The story opens with Agnes, Honey & their friend Peter being sent to Emmanuel's (the "divine one") "Regulation Room" for punishment.

Nana Pete, Agnes' grandmother, comes for a visit just about the time Benny (Agnes' b

An amazing look at how two people growing up in the same environment can turn out so differently. Also, a frightening look at the inner workings of a cult. Two girls, both born and raised as Believers under the charismatic leader Emmanuel begin to grow apart as one of them longs to be free of the commune and the other strives to be its most perfect follower. Both voices are crystal clear and vastly different, and the book was gripping.
If I can tell you one thing about The Patron Saint of Butterflies, it is clear your schedule so you can sit down and inhale this book in one reading. Oh. my. I loved this book, and its tentacles haven't let me go even a week after finishing. I made the mistake of trying to go to sleep about 2/3 of the way through, and had a fitful, restless night, wondering how things were going to turn out; IF they were going to turn out.

Honey and Agnes are twelve. They have grown up side by side in a convent/
Kate Hastings
Sep 29, 2008 Kate Hastings rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: grades 7-10
Agnes and Honey have grown up in a religious commune called Mount Blessing. Here, their leader Emmanuel, calls all the shots. Children spend the first seven years of their lives in a nursery away from their parents so that Emmanuel can become their father.

Sainthood, perfection, and love of God are perverted into an abusive lifestyle. Children are whipped and beaten-- but nobody questions Emmanuel's ways.

Great book. Creepy.
Sami Macdonald
In the book "The Patron Saint of Butterflies" by Cecilia Galante, you get taken through the crazy lives of Honey, a wild and free girl, and Agnes, somebody who is always trying to be perfect. They live in this religous commune where you can get punished by being whipped with belts. Honey gets in trouble the most though and that leads to getting punished in this horrible room. (Pg.25)"I try not to think about it, but the whole regulation room scene unreels itself in my head." Suddenly, Agnes's gr ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Martha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
Interesting subject and a compelling read. Not always completely believable--Honey seemed a little too worldly and sophisticated for her upbringing and the secret of her parentage was not very credible to me; the father, too, seemed a bit of a caricature--but on the whole a good book that I would recommend.
A haunting, intense book about two girls in a religious commune. A great use of a dual narrative, which made it just sparkle.
Tara Hixon
So unique. Such a thought-provoking and unusual topic for young adults to tackle. Well-written and nicely paced.
Johannah Gale
This was a really good book that I had a hard time putting down. I haven't liked a book that much in a long time.
Hannah Capron
This is the kind of thought-provoking book that makes you wish you came up with such a unique plot. The story of Agnes and Honey is a compelling yet haunting story of living in a religious commune named Mount Blessing. They've always been best friends, but Agnes has always thought of herself much more of a "Believer". Honey despises Mount Blessing, and all the abuse that comes with living there. The worst part is the Regulation Room, which is a place where both the children and adults are beaten ...more

Agnes and Honey were raised together in a compound of "Believers" and have been best friends since birth. As they grow up, they spiritually take different paths. Agnes becomes devout in her beliefs while Honey not only pushes the limits, but defies and ignores them altogther. Since they are living in a compound of "believers", they must unquestionably obey their leader, Emmanuel. While both girls despise the strict discipline thrust upon them by the hand of Emmanuel, it is the chain of events th
On the surface, Agnes and Honey are as different as night and day. Inside of the commune walls of Mount Blessing, these two best friends are going through typical teenage rivalry. Honey, an orphaned child who lives with the physically and mentally challenged gardener Winky, is a wild child who chafes at the restrictions she is forced to live under. Her best friend, the pious Agnes, is determined to become a saint and continually chastises Honey for her rebellious behavior.

The one thing that both
Wow! What a great surprise! I love this book for its literary merit, it's fast moving plot, its memorable characters, and its thematic content. This book escaped my attention until it was listed as a"2008 Editor's Choice" in VOYA - they gave it a score of 9 out of 10 points and named it one of the top 12 books for teens of 2008! I read it on their recommendation. They said: "Absolutely riveting, this book examines life in a religious commune and the consequences of challenging a manipulative doc ...more
Sarah - Stuck in a Story
I stumbled upon The Patron Saint of Butterflies by mistake when looking through book blogs. Unfortunately I don't remember which book blog it was, but whoever it was thank you for showing me this book!

One of the things that got me interested in reading this book is the title. The Patron Saint of Butterflies, what a great title! It's especially fitting with the setting of the religion commune Mount Blessing as well as Agnes and Honey's escape (the butterflies). After reading the book I've found t
I've always been fascinated by people who live on religious communes, ever since I found out about Jonestown and about the FLDS sect in Arizona. How could these people put such stock in just one man, allowing him to control and run their lives? Yet this is exactly what happens in this book. Agnes and Honey are two girls being raised on a religious commune called Mount Blessing, where the residents are led by a man called Emmanuel who has absolute control over everyone living there. Until Agnes's ...more
Galante, Cecilia. (2008). The Patron Saint of Butterflies.

Mount Blessing religious community where Agnes and Honey have always lived helps teaches its members how to live perfect lives and thus insure heavenly rewards. Fourteen year old Agnes strives daily to live as a saint and embraces the teachings of Emmanuel, Mount Blessing’s leader. Honey, also fourteen years old, cannot wait to escape. She receives cruel punishments from Emmanuel and his closest advisor, Veronica. Agnes’ paternal grandmo
Brandi Rae
The story is told through the alternative views of Agnes and Honey, who live in the religious commune in Connecticut named Mount Blessing. The "True Believers" life a very strict life following the religious teachings of Emmanuel (the commune's father) and Veronica (the commune's mother). Kids are separated from their parents when they are 6 months old until they are 7, during which time they live in a separate nursery. Everyone must where blue robes, pray several times a day and never eat red o ...more
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