Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for...Religion

Controversial Song of the Day: "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M

For the entire month of April, we'll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Our theme for the month? CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA. Check out the link above for other awesome blogs participating.  

Image taken from ufvcascade.ca
I was baptized when I was younger...then when I got to college I was convinced that I wanted to be Buddhist. I was never very religious to begin with. So, when I learned about the other religions besides Christianity that were out there, I wanted to explore. Me and Pam settled on Buddhism and even bought the little statues and a book to teach us what to do. Now, we're considering transcendental meditation. It's not like we don't believe in God--we just struggle with religion and what it all means (mainly because we disagree with so many things that Christians often tell us is wrong--i.e. homosexuality and only eating fish on Fridays).

If we still struggle with religion and what it means in our daily lives, then imagine how teens may feel. I teach several teenagers who are adamant about their faith, and I think that is wonderful, Yet, I also know a huge group of teens who battle with their religion and figuring out if it truly should be a defining factor of their lives. And as a side note, not all of these teens that I speak of are Christians. 

I don't think there are enough novels for young adults that deal with religion, yet the ones that do are often glossed over because the topic of religion is one of those things that no one wants to touch.

Here are some novels that are brave enough to discuss religion:

*Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
*The Girl of Fire and Thorns  by Rae Carson
*Bestest. Ramadan. Ever by Medeia Sharif
*Faking Faith by Josie Bloss
*Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin

Does your novel deal with or incorporate religion? Do you think faith is something that teens find important?


Jaye Robin Brown said...

My current WIP doesn't deal specifically with religion, but my MC's mama is a devout Baptist and though my MC isn't questioning her faith specifically, she's thinking an awful lot about sins. Her own and her father's. They go to church in the book and that faith is a presence - but it's definitely not a "christian" book, just a part of their life.

Carrie-Anne said...

I think at least 50% of my characters (predominantly in my Atlantic City books and the spin-off Shoah series, obviously) are Jewish, of various denominations and levels of religiosity. Besides writing what I know, it's also because of the era I choose to write about, at least among the original generation. I've also been motivated in part because it's so freaking frustrating to see, 99% of the time, Jewish characters on tv or in the movies depicted as either crazy fanatics who need to be taught a lesson and learn to become less religious, or extremely secular, assimilated people who don't do jack with their heritage or care about passing it on to the next generation. I also hate how there's a 99% intermarriage/interdating rate on tv and in the movies, which definitely isn't the case in real life.

One of my dearest characters, Laura, is a devout Catholic, and that's an extremely important part of her character. She's rather liberal for the pre-Vatican II era, and later gets tossed out of her church for her beliefs, but she never stops being religious and hoping for the Church to reform. Her dream from childhood is to be the first female Pope, and I'm actually very sad that she's now an old woman and hasn't even been able to become a priest. I was just as naïve as Laura when I created her, thinking there really would be female ordination by the end of the 20th century.

Katy Upperman said...

I steer clear of religion in my own writing, mostly because I'm still unsure of how I feel about it myself. I do enjoy reading books that deal with religion, though. Sara Zarr's ONCE WAS LOST in excellent.

Marquita Hockaday said...

Thanks for commenting!

@Jaye I think that's awesome that you even mention their faith in your novel. For one draft of my historical novel, religion and questioning God is predominant but I scrapped that entire portion. I want to write a novel where religion is mentioned, but I've yet to do so...

@Carrie-Anne- It's so neat that your characters end up being Jewish. I think a lot of Jewish people out there will be grateful to be represented in your novels!

Marquita Hockaday said...

@Katy- I want to read Once Was Lost so bad! I love Sara Zarr :D

nutschell said...

great book recommendations! thanks!
Happy A-Zing!

Sarah said...

I, too, was baptized when I was a baby but fell off the faith train when I was a teenager. I respect other people's beliefs just as long as they don't cite their faith as a reason for condemning others.

I think many teens find faith important whether they are devout followers of a particular faith or struggling to find a way to reclaim their faith. It would be great if there were more writers who at least created characters who struggle with their faith or find faith, not use religion for the sole purpose of adding an element of controversy and attracting attention to themselves.

Sarah @ The Writer's Experiment

deathwriter said...

I did R is for Religion too! Yay! My next non-fiction book is going to be about finding my religion. I wasn't raised in any particular brand of religion and now I'm curious, as are my children.

As far as YA, I'm not really familiar with many titles, although I'm sure I will be soon. My daughter is 11 and is an avid reader. I'll check out some of the books you've posted. Heck, I'm reading a children's Bible to understand the Bible, so maybe I should read some YA too.

As a side note,I saw that Quita is represented by Red Sofa. I know Dawn at Red Sofa. She came to the DFW conference last year and I was her "wrangler." She's a cool chick.

Jessica Love said...

Another recent book that focuses a lot on religion is SMALL TOWN SINNERS.

Catch My Words said...

You left out my favorite YA book on religion.

Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman

Catch My Words

eastcoastlife said...

I was baptized when I was 20. My family were Buddhists. There was a lot of objection to my baptism and now my Mom has converted to Christianity.

I married a Taoist. My son choose to be baptised in November last year.

Thanks for the books that you recommend. I will try to look for them.