Title: Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature
Author: Robin Brande
ISBN: 9780375843495
Pages: 268 pages
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, c2007.

I knew today would be ugly.
When you’re single-handedly responsible for getting your church, your pastor, and every one of your former friends and their parents sued for millions of dollars, you expect to make some enemies. Fine.
It’s just that I hoped my first day of school–of high school, thank you, which I’ve only been looking forward to my entire life–might turn out to be at least slightly better than eating live bugs. But I guess I was wrong. (1)

Freshman Mena Reece has been kicked out of her church group and ostracized by not only the church but also her parents (who refuse to speak to her) and her classmates (who openly ridicule her). Her only bright spot is science class, where her lab partner doesn’t seem bothered by what she did. But then the science teacher Ms. Shepard begins the unit on evolution, which provides a different focus for the church going classmates and sparks a fire storm war of words. Will Mena again be pulled into defending something that goes against her long-held religious beliefs?

I couldn’t help but admire Ms. Shepard’s courage and perseverance in her belief of separation of church and state in teaching evolution. Mena’s attempts to combine two ways of thinking that so many people saw as polar opposites was also admirable, and she grappled with some hard questions as her thinking slowly evolved (pardon the pun). Her final conclusion that we are all freaks of nature was amusing, as you could see that each character has their own quirks. I was personally disappointed in the zealous nature of the priest, but that was obviously the character’s nature and he stayed true to form throughout the novel. The budding romance that Mena experiences was enjoyable to watch, and it carried on the “opposites attract” theme that could be found throughout the novel. I was extremely glad that Mena was able to find some friends that would help her during this very difficult year.

It would be interesting if a prequel was written, actually portraying what happened, but I think it would be a challenging to write a book in which Mena is still likeable to readers.