Virginia Review
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When confronted with a novel like Virginia, I often wonder, had I lived back in biblical times, whether I would have believed Mary when she claimed to be carrying God’s child. Would any of us? Looking at the events in the Bible from a non-believer’s standpoint, some of what went on is pretty fantastical. But I guess that’s why we’re cautioned to live by faith and not by sight alone.

Ivy Morell hadn’t heard from her childhood friend in years. Then, out of the blue, Virginia Donato calls and asks her to come over. She has something to confide in her. What Virginia tells Ivy is bizarre beyond belief, but she believes it’s the only way to save her brother. Could her friend be losing her mind, living in a house with an overly religious brother, siblings that follow him blindly, and a mother who isn’t quite herself since the death of her husband?

Dealing with an alcoholic mother hasn’t been easy for Ivy. She constantly has to pick up the slack and hold the family together. Her father makes excuses for her mother, and her sister left home because she couldn’t deal with it anymore. Realizing that she might not be able to save her mother, Ivy sets out to save Virginia instead. When she uncovers secrets about Virginia’s brother’s “church,” things turn out to be a lot more dangerous than she thought, and someone just might get hurt.

Virginia is a gripping and completely out-of-the-ordinary young adult novel about a teenager’s struggle to understand something that goes beyond her beliefs (or lack thereof). Sometimes it takes a non-believer to stop a disaster that’s been brought on by religious zealots who lose sight of God. It reminded me of a scene in Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, when Burt tells the deranged teenagers that if a religion isn’t based in love, it’s wrong—and I couldn’t agree more.

At the heart of Virginia lies a riveting mystery, leaving readers to speculate what Virginia’s brother is planning. Once it’s revealed, you’ll shudder and wonder how anyone’s thinking can get so off-track. I was held spellbound by this book—even though the storyline, once again, makes people who believe in God look like a bunch of nuts.

Still, whatever your beliefs, you’re sure to enjoy Virginia for its intelligent mystery, along with its portrayal of the struggles we all face in life—from one problem to the next—and how, as individuals, we handle them.

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