Mary Mae likes it at Remnant Church of God. She likes all of the Praise the Lords and the Amens, and the fact that folks can just get on up and tell everybody what it is they’re thankful for. Her pastor, Sister Coates, is preaching about how important it is to believe every word in the Bible, and how it’s the duty of all to spread the Word. She gives everyone a stack of John 3:16 stickers, and soon Mary Mae is in the car with her Mama and her Granny heading to the mall, hoping to save souls.
On the way back home, her Mama gets pulled over by the police. While they are stopped, Mary Mae notices the stripes in the rocks are just like the ones that they’ve been talking about at school. She tells her Granny about the different eras that they represent (just like she tells her Granny about everything that she learns in school), and Mama is none too pleased. She lets Mary Mae know that they don’t believe in different eras…they believe that the Earth is 6000 years old. Now, Mary Mae is a girl who likes her facts, so when she gets home she combs her Bible for where it says that the Earth is 6000 years old. When she doesn’t find the information she wants, she asks her Pastor about it. Sister Coates doesn’t seem too happy with the questions that Mary Mae is asking, and soon the Sunday school class is assigned to put on a puppet show all about Creation.
Meanwhile, at school Mrs. Sizemore is teaching Mary Mae’s class all about the Ordovician Age and trilobites. She lets them know that there are lots of fossils to be found in their own area, due to a warm shallow sea that used to cover their part of Ohio…and they are going to dig for some as a class! Mary Mae is super excited, and is very proud of her finds. She knows she should be sitting out with Shirley Whirly (who goes to Remnant Church of God), but she just can’t. Science seems to pull at her heart. She just can’t understand why her Mama and her Pastor seem so upset when she asks questions. Mama is so upset that she’s getting ready to yank her out of school and teach her at home.
Sandra Dutton has written a gem of a book that explores the faith/science divide. Mary Mae loves her church life, but loves her school life as well. Her Mama’s mind is completely closed, and new information seems to genuinely scare her. Granny is such a breath of fresh air and an amazing character that she quickly became a favourite of mine. She has a thirst for knowledge just like Mary Mae, and she makes Mary Mae feel safe in her explorations. Because of the questioning of faith this book not might find as wide of an audience as it should, but readers will truly enjoy Mary Mae’s journey and her bravery. Dutton has the voice of the family down pat, and I think this could be an important book for those on both sides of the evolution/intelligent design debate.