Misdirected is a book about a 15 year old boy, Ben, who moves to a new town where religion is an important aspect of everyone’s life. Ben wasn’t raised in a religious home, and although he attended a religious private school for most of his life, he doesn’t understand why religion is so important to everyone.
After being treated like an outcast because of his lack of interest in being a Christian, he discovers he’s Atheist. This causes an even bigger disconnect with his town and school, leaving him with only two friends.
I felt like a lot of this book was exaggerated because I’ve never faced people with such fierce perspectives or beliefs, and I suppose that’s how Ben’s life was before moving, so I could relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed by the ‘hardcore religious’ characters, as Ben would put it.
Most of this book made me uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. It pointed out a lot of hypocrisy and unneeded hate that exists within our society. It made me consider how considerate (no pun intended) I am about other people’s beliefs.
The plot was simple and sweet, as are many contemporaries, but the characters are what really made this book stand out. Ben was somewhat typical, but that was hardly a negative thing.
Tess, Ben’s neighbor and eventual girlfriend is a Christian, but unlike her peers and family, she accepts Ben for who he is. She was sort of like the moral compass or guiding figure in Ben’s life. She helps him overcome his own judgments about Christianity.
My favorite character, though, was James, Ben’s only other friend who is also an Atheist. James has a tough home life with an alcoholic mother, but he’s always very down to earth.
Lastly, I loved Ben’s parents. They were accepting and let Ben make his own choices about his beliefs and life, while always being a respectable and responsible role model.
“‘You thanked him,’ I say.
‘Yes,’ [Ben’s Dad] says, letting go of the steering wheel and putting on his seat belt.
‘Why did you thank him?’
‘Because that’s what adults do in a bad situation. If I had reacted the way I wanted to, it would have made things worse.’
‘So being an adult means holding your tongue and letting a guy kick you in the metaphorical balls?’
‘Yep. Sometimes that’s exactly what it means.’
‘I think I like my way better.'” – A conversation between Ben and his father after they have a unsuccessful discussion with Ben’s principal about how Ben has been treated because of his beliefs. | Misdirected by Ali Berman
The writing was pretty simple and the voice came across the way I imagine a fifteen year old boy’s perspective would. It was fairly light and humorous at times, despite the content.
This book was a fast read for me because of how simple it was, but it dealt with a lot of important topics such as religious tolerance and LGBT issues, and even touched on animal cruelty… although I almost felt like it was trying to seduce me to become a vegan/vegetarian.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to pretty much everyone. If you enjoy contemporaries that point out issues with society, including prejudice, hate, and religion, then this is a book you’d probably enjoy.