Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: Virginia by Susan Hughes

What would happen if a 15 year old girl claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she was chosen to bear the next child of God? 

This is the story of Virginia Donato, as told by Ivy, her childhood friend.  Ivy and Virginia were close friends as girls, but not particularly close as teenagers, which made it all the more strange when Virginia asked Ivy to come over to her house one day.  She said that she had something important, but not terrible, to tell her.  Virginia claims that the angel Gabriel came to her bedroom. 
"I've been chosen to have a child," she said in a low voice.  "A child that will come from God." 
At first, Ivy thought the worst.  Did someone rape her?  Was she delusional?  Was she a mixed up girl trying to cover up an unwanted pregnancy with a wild story about an immaculate conception?  Virginia's large family had always been deeply religious, attending the local Catholic church. After the death of Virginia's father, her eldest brother, Paul, took his place as patriarch of the family. Paul had different ideas about religion, and opened up his own secret church in the vacant house behind theirs.  Paul preached about the End of Time and the final judgement.  Virginia and her brother, Joe, did not attend Paul's church and stayed out of his way, until Ivy made some terrifying discoveries, with Virginia's visit with the angel only being the beginning.  Now it was up to Joe and Ivy to find out the truth about what was going on in the Donato family.

I'll be completely honest, I don't know how I would classify this novel.  Even though there are definitely spiritual and Christian themes, none of them are true to their foundation, and blatantly misinterpreted by some of the characters in the book, so I don't think I would consider this Christian Fiction.   While it posed some interesting questions of faith, there were few answers.  I also don't know if I would recommend it to a YA reader.  The themes of a religious cult, alcoholic parents, among other things, may not be appropriate for some readers.  If your teen wants to read Virginia, I highly recommend reading it with her, and discussing it.  I do think the questions Susan Hughes presents her readers are thought-provoking and worthy of discussion.

Unfortunately, the end of the book left me with a huge question mark and too many loose ends.  I found the storyline interesting and compelling, but it never quite took me where I wanted it to go.  I enjoyed it as I read it, but there was not enough to satisfy me in the end.  I think I may need to talk to someone about the many themes of this book, so if you've read it, give me a shout. 

About the Author:
Susan Hughes is a children s book writer and editor. Her 2002 book Canada Invents was shortlisted for the Red Cedar Book Award and the Hackmatack Award, and was an Our Choice starred selection of the Canadian Children s Book Centre.
Visit Susan Hughes Online.

About the Book:
Virginia by Susan Hughes
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd. (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1554533074
ISBN-13: 978-1554533077

*FTC Statement:  A review copy of this book was provided by the author


Susan Hughes said...

Hi Alison,

Thanks so much for reviewing my book! I appreciate hearing your opinion of it, and I really do hope some readers write in and share their comments as well.

Susan Hughes

tabasssum said...

after reading Virginia
your like my favourite author.
i love your books they're really intresting.

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