Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

When I was growing up, it didn’t seem like a stretch for a person to be a Christian and also to believe that evolution was the way that God chose to create the world. These days, though, Intelligent Design seems to mean that very clear lines are drawn and you have to pick a side. What’s especially confusing is that each side has information on how the other side is distorting the facts. Or flat-out lying. I’m not science-y enough to want to invest a whole lot of time in it, so I mostly tune out that whole conversation. I know people I trust on both sides of the debate: thoughtful, considerate people who think evolution is a lie from hell and committed Christians who believe in evolution. I used to know more in the first group, but lately I meet more in the second.

Maybe I’m just being dense, but I don’t understand why there’s a problem with believing that God used evolution. To me, that doesn’t take away from God at all. And I assume I’ll get all kinds of hate mail and comments about . . . I don’t know, the fossil record or something, but, as I said before, both sides seem to have different facts and interpretations. It just makes me tired.

Which brings me to this book: Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature. Mena, a high school freshman, was basically in the youth group from Saved! before she got kicked out for doing something she thought was right. Now they’ve turned all their venom on her, pushing her into lockers and generally making her life miserable. Mena makes a new friend in her lab partner, Casey, and when the science teacher, Ms. Shepherd, begins teaching a unit on evolution, Mena watches her old friends’ antics (turning their backs on the teacher, interrupting to demand that Intelligent Design be taught) for the first time as an outsider.

I loved this book. I loved that Mena continued to believe in God even though the church kicked her out, that she didn’t write off God even though her former friends weren’t acting in a very Christlike way to her. I liked that she learned about both science and faith and that they don’t have to be at odds. I loved Ms. Shepherd, who was passionate about science and teaching, and who infected her students with that excitement. My favorite character was probably Casey, her lab partner. Mena’s family is very strict about media, and when he found out she had never seen or read The Lord of the Rings, his dramatic response had me laughing out loud.

The only thing I wasn’t sure about was how realistic Mena’s parents’ response was to her getting kicked out of youth group. For most of the book, they gave her the silent treatment, because they were affected by the decision Mena made that got her kicked out of youth group. I am not a parent, and I agree that Mena should probably have talked to someone about what was going on before she did what she did, but it’s hard for me to believe a parent wouldn’t have been proud of Mena for standing up for what was right (and I think Mena did what was right, not just what she thought was right). At the very least, wouldn’t they have talked to her about it? I would have liked that relationship to be fleshed out a little more, I think, because even the confrontation in the end wasn’t quite enough for me. Maybe it was too much to believe that Mena’s parents would understand her right away, though, and we are just supposed to see them taking steps to work out their differences. That’s real life, to be sure. We don’t wrap things up like a sitcom. But it did leave me a little unsatisfied.

In the end, Mena learns a powerful lesson about science, belief, and the separation of church and state. Not only that, but she also gains a little perspective on her parents and her old friends, learning to consider how her decisions affect other people. This is Robin Brande’s first book, which comes out in August, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

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  1. By rc Helicopter Toy on 8/29/2017 at

    rc Helicopter Toy

    Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande – Through a Glass, Darkly