Misdirected by Ali Berman


Goodreads Summary:

Misdirected is the story of fifteen-year-old Ben, who moves to a small conservative Colorado town where his atheism seems to be the only thing about him that matters to everyone. His classmates bully him for not fitting in, his teachers don’t understand him, and with his brother serving in Iraq and his sister away at college with problems of her own, Ben is left on his own to figure things out. Being a teen is tricky to navigate when you’re an outsider, and Ben struggles to find his place without compromising who he is. He rebels against his teachers, he argues with his classmates, and he rejects what others believe, bringing the reader with him on his enlightening journey as he learns the value of challenging accepted beliefs—including his own.

My Thoughts:

This book is about Ben a fifteen year old who is moved from Boston to Colorado.  Not only is he having to leave his friends behind, and start over at a new Christian private school, the entire small town is religious.  The problem: he and his family are atheist.  He went to a Catholic school in Boston, but it was more liberal and taught facts not just ideals based on the bible.  Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal that Ben is atheist, because it is no one else’s business, but in this tiny town, people make it their business, and Ben not only doesn’t have friends in school, he is openly harassed.  It is not even like he goes around bible bashing and that is how people find out he doesn’t believe. People come up and ask him specifically which church he is going to, and when he says none, they demand to know if he is atheist, when he says I guess so, that is when people stop talking to him.  He does have a secret friend in the girl across the street who, although Christian, does not have the same beliefs as the rest of the town, and eventually James another boy is is ousted because his mother is an alcoholic.  He also happens to be an atheist.  The main things I liked about this book was that is shows that just because you don’t have religion, it does not mean you do not have morals or anything. Which I hear a lot btw: if you don’t believe in god then how do you have any morals. Morals come from the bible. You could just go around killing people.”  Umm no that’s ridiculous.  Beside the fact that Christians kill people as well, you don’t need some book to tell you the difference between right and wrong.  ANYWAY I have gotten off track..  I like how in this book Ben tries to respect everyone else’s beliefs.  He only starts getting angry and defensive when people keep attacking him, trying to convert him, and actually harming him.  The Christians in this book do not paint an accurate portrayal of ALL Christians, nor is it supposed to.  That is why his secret girlfriend, is not like the rest of the town, and the senior in charge of the talent show is also a lot nicer. But it does show that some Christians are intolerant bigots. The book shows that there are good and bad people in all religions, because there are just good and bad people, religion is often just used as a justification.  I love how Ben tries so hard to fit in, even agreeing to go to church just so he can make some new friends, and when he realizes he can’t listen to people getting bashed and condemned for hours at a time each week, he decides that friendship from those people is not worth it.  He always stands up for his beliefs and he also stands up for his friends (all 2 of them..)  I was a little scared that he was going to eventually “be saved” and then I wouldn’t have liked this book at all, but he stays true to who he is and what he believes through everything.  You might think that this is just a book pro atheism or Christian bashing but it really isn’t.  This book was great. Definitely worth a read.   



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