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The Patron Saint of Butterflies
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The Patron Saint of Butterflies

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,774 Ratings  ·  300 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,
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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Nov 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, teen

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
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
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...
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
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2008 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
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Kendall 2/3
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Apr 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: trauma, juvenile
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
Corinne Edwards

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
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Luciana Herman
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't think that I would like this book, but it was amazing. The story was brilliant and got me hooked so fast, it was something that I wouldn't normally read, but I'm so grateful that I did. It was perfectly paced with the right mixture of ups and downs that the characters went through. It made me feel all the right things for each character, and anger at the right points. There was a few things that let it down though, as some of the key points weren't in much detail when they should ...more
satomi noda 📚
This was heartbreaking, yet something I couldn't put down. I read it over the course of a school day which meant I had to put it down for awhile, and when I did, it was agonising. I needed to know what happened next for Agnes and Honey. Seeing things that are usual in our world as new firsts for them was interesting and quite chilling to read. The ending left me with hope for the characters, but it was also quite bittersweet. The Patron Saint of Butterflies has quickly become one of my favourite ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youngadult

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.
Kate Hastings
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Sydney Gishey!!!!!!!
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought the book was pretty good! I thought that since they both had different perspectives it was cool. Agnes loved being religious & wanted to follow in many people's footsteps before her. Whereas honey wants to live her life & not worry about anything. Overall it is a really cute story, but they face hardships. verrrryyyy very good :)
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book about two girls escaping a religious cult is compelling not only for its timeliness but also because the author herself grew up in a similar commune and brings an insider perspective. It's a suspenseful, absorbing read with well-defined characters. A summer reading treat!
Johannah Gale
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasly goooooooooooood
Tara Zimmerman
Oct 11, 2010 rated it liked it
So unique. Such a thought-provoking and unusual topic for young adults to tackle. Well-written and nicely paced.
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: er-review-books, ya
A haunting, intense book about two girls in a religious commune. A great use of a dual narrative, which made it just sparkle.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Not at all what I expected. But in a good way.

Some people have reviewed this saying they didn't like the dual-narration. I think it worked really well. The voices were distinct and separate and yet worked together telling a vivid story worth reading. The characters all had their own arcs of development and it was so interesting to have the hugely contrasting feelings of Honey and Agnes. I really didn't like Agnes toward the end, but you get where she's coming from so it's ok at the same time. Sh
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Galante, Cecilia The Patron Saint of Butterflies. Pg. 292: Bloomsbury, 2008. Language-PG, Sexual Content-G, Violence-PG.

Agnes and honey live in a convent with other Believers. Agnes is an almost perfect Believer who strives to be a saint. Honey, the outcast, is rebellious and doesn't believe as everyone else does. When one lie is uncovered by Agnes' grandmother, many more lies become visible.

This was an okay book that had a good meaning behind it. It's a good story about family, lies and decepti
Savannah Avery
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I completely fell in love with this book, even though it wasn't what I was expecting. This book was prefect, although very different from the typical YA books about cults.

You can read the rest of my review at:
Toray Maxwell
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Reas

I liked this book a lot, for all of the talk on religion practiced in extreme forms. It also had very love-able characters! I recommend this book to middle to high schoolers. The rating I chose reflects the overall (not so) fun ride I went on!
Rachel Valentine
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it but I feel some of it could have been cut. I still enjoyed it quite a bit.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! But, I felt so sorry for the young girls and was left wondering how someone who only meant to help them, could lead them so astray?
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Cecilia Galante is the author of several middle grade, young adult and adult novels. She also teaches 8th grade English at Wyoming Seminary Prep School, and teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Wilkes University.
More about Cecilia Galante

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“There is nothing greater than love; it is stronger than any evil, any darkness.
Show me the way, Jesus!
Love is the answer. If we love one another, then we need not fear anything else. Love is everything.”
More quotes…