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Faking Faith, Josie Bloss

2012/01/30

Sexting is something that has gotten a lot of media coverage lately — young girls taking and sending nude photos to their boyfriends; this often backfires when the couple breaks up, the photos are distributed, and charges are brought about regarding distribution of child pornography. But although that is the catalyst for this novel, it is not the central theme. Dylan is one of those girls — swept off her feet by the bad boy (despite warnings of her friends), and then tossed aside in a dramatic clash culminating in a smashed windshield and a flurry of picture texts. While she attempts to recuperate from the social ostracizing that occurs, Dylan finds herself reading the blog of a homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girl named Abigail, and becomes fascinated by her life, so very different from her own. And soon Dylan is making her own blog in an attempt to connect with Abigail and other girls like her.

I have to admit that I grew up with some girls like this. My parents did homeschool me, and my mother tried hard to make us fit into the good homeschooled Christian girl model (ala Elisabeth Elliot), although we were too Chinese to ever be the perfect fundamentalist girls. So I know all too well the world that the curious Dylan describes, right down to the “Christian girlhood” blogs that she reads, first with astonishment and a little scorn; I had friends who dabbled in writing similar newsletters, though these were actual mailed newsletters — no World Wide Web for them! I appreciate that in this story, Dylan’s experience with this foreign family and their odd lifestyle causes her to become closer to her own family and friends, creating an appreciation that she did not have before. That Dylan realizes she cannot force Abigail to accept her help in breaking away from the unhealthy aspects of the lifestyle is also very true to life. The author seems to do a good job at portraying Dylan’s attempts to understand and respect the lifestyle choices made by the fundamentalists while still disagreeing with some of their beliefs; however, upon reading Bloss’s blog, it is evident that she is adamantly anti-fundamentalist, calling her discoveries “sheer mind-boggling terror.” And while I too have issues with fundamentalism, for many of the same reasons that Dylan does in this novel, the author’s attitude of outright condemnation and disgust does not seem like the most appropriate way to bridge the gap to women who are emerging from this lifestyle.

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