State of Disgrace by Linda Ann Rentschler
Mary Beth Everitt is not your average Catholic school girl. Although she’s plagued by the usual guilt and fear of judgment, she doesn’t quite rebel the way most do when they graduate from the kilts and sweaters. (I went to Catholic school so I can speak to this phenomenon with some authority). In her story, the adolescent rebellion comes later in life, in the form of cigarettes, a job at a risque men’s magazine, and a passionate almost one-night stand.
Right from page one, Mary Beth’s voice shines through in Rentschler’s expert writing. We know who we’re dealing with, what shapes the woman she has become, and what little regrets she keeps close to her chest. And I have to admit that the guilt-ridden account of her “rebellion” is at times worth a chuckle… she does take herself so seriously. Things most of us wouldn’t give a second thought to have Mary Beth praying for forgiveness. But it’s all very real and never too over the top. Mary Best is believable at all times, sympathetic to women of any faith, and guided by her heart in the most genuine of ways. You can’t read this book and not feel good when you put it down.
The Three R’s
Rating: This one gets a PG-13. It stays fairly “sweet” throughout. Mary Beth’s journey isn’t about the hot and heavy moments, it’s much more personal than that. If not for the occasional swear word, cigarettes, and suggestiveness of one character in particular (ahem, Violet…), it might not even warrant the 13!
Recommendation: Pick this one up for a nice, quiet evening of reading. It will suck you right into the story, so be warned: you won’t get much done until you’ve finished all 200 pages.
Re-read: It’s not a must to re-read this one. You get what you need from it on the first go-round. Still, Mary Beth is such a pleasant character and her story is so well told, you might find yourself missing it when it’s over.