This IS a review! Godless by Pete Hautman

Being the leader of a growing religion is not all power and glory. For one thing, there is way too much politics. In other words, you have to lie a lot.” – Godless, pg 83.

ImageJason Bock is getting a bit fed up with the status quo. The teenager lives in a middle class family where his father is an active member of the Catholic church. Every Sunday, Jason and his parents go off to church and listen to the minister explain life, the universe and everything. Jason is also part of a youth group that meets a couple times a week to discuss Christian living and reaffirm the group leader’s belief that “Jesus is a really cool guy.”  Problem is, Jason doesn’t buy it. 

Jason, the protagonist in the story, has come to the conclusion that he is either an Atheist, ( a person who does not believe in God) or an Agnostic, (A person who isn’t sure if there is a God or not and believes they will probably never know.) His teenage brain is filled with questions that aren’t getting satisfactory answers from his dad, his minister or his youth group leader. 

One night, while out around town, Jason has a run in with a school bully who punches him out. When Jason wakes up, he’s laying on the ground, under the town’s water tower. Drips of water are falling on his face. Something in his mind clicks. Water! The source of all life! The tower is the source of clean water and therefore, the giver of life for the entire town! His (possibly concussed) logic leads him to the conclusion, the WATER TOWER is GOD!  Well not really…but to Jason, the water tower is just as good as an idea as a man on a cloud somewhere.  It also seems to really get his dad and the youth group leader upset and we alllllll know teens like to push boundaries.  He recruits a few friends and a new faith is born. 

That’s when the problems start. 

The ERC teacher in me loves the debate it opens up about the meaning of God and belief in a higher power. I’m not saying I agree with Jason, I just am always up for a good old fashion discussion about where everything came from. Who am I to say that Jason is wrong?  I would never say anyone’s faith is wrong.

One of the things I like about this books is that all of the characters are flawed. The protagonist isn’t a hero. He isn’t perfect and he really needs to come to grips with the fact that you can’t force people to change and be who you want them to be. This makes me think of some of the problems people face when discussing religion in real life too. Often, people want others to change and think and act like their religion dictates. I think history makes a pretty good argument that this kind of thinking doesn’t usually end well for anyone. 

Godless is a fast read. It’s medium size in length and it’s not very difficult as so far as the vocabulary goes.  I do suggest that the reader goes into the book with an open mind. The characters may think very differently from you about what God is or if God is how society portrays him, (her? it?)  If you have ever felt that the people around you are pushing a belief on you that you don’t fully agree with, this book may speak to you in interesting ways – kind of like how a water tower speaks to Jason. 

 – Ms. A


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About trafalgarreviewofliterature

Ms. Jackson and Ms. Allison blog our reviews of all things bookish. Check out some of the amazing titles in the classroom libraries.

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