Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Believe Me"

Nina Killham is the author of three novels, How to Cook a Tart, Mounting Desire, and Believe Me.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Believe Me and reported the following:
The idea for Believe Me cropped up when I wasn't sure what to teach my children about religion. My husband is a mouthy Atheist and I'm a lapsed Catholic. And I began to wonder what are the consequences of bringing up children without religion? So Nic, the character, was born. He is 13 years old and his mother, Lucy, an astronomy professor and card carrying Atheist, has brought him up to be highly rational and scientific. Then one day she discovers he's been sneaking off to Bible class where Dele, an African Baptist minister, has been introducing him to the joys of Evangelism.

On page 69 Nic is thinking about his new best friend, Kevin, whose mother introduced Nic to the bible class. Nic is quite enthralled by Kevin (Kevin is cool and confident, Nic is...not) and is relating how Kevin has a MySpace page but his mother doesn't know:

He's totally undercover. He signs on when he's at the library, when his mom thinks he's working on his Abe-Lincoln-Was-a-Cool-Dude project. His first link is to Tila Tequila. I think Mrs. Porter would fall down dead if she knew. Though I don't see what the big deal is. Jesus was heavily into Mary Madgalene and if she lived today you can be sure she'd be linked to MySpace. Every self-respecting hooker is. No offense of anything. I'm just saying.

The second paragraph relates to Nic's relationship with his father who has taken a job in another city and doesn't live with Nic and his mother. One of Nic's main goals in the book is to get his family back under the same roof. He discovers his father is on MySpace too:

I found my dad's page. There he was: Shaman360. It's got all this Gaia stuff on it. He talks about what a great dad he is. He posted a picture of the two of us fishing in Glacier Park. I'm holding a bass and he's putting his hands apart wider like it's the biggest fish ever landed. Funnee, dad. Oh, so funnee! It looks like he's advertising for a girlfriend.

The rest of the page has Nic at a party where he awkwardly hooks up with a girl:

I had a girlfriend once. For about forty-five minutes. It was at Adam Clark's Halloween party last year. She was dressed as a bunch of grapes. She had on a light green leotard with light green balloons stuck to it. She kept running around yelling, "I'm Chardonnay! Get it? Get it? I'm wine. Chardonnay!" Her name is Kay. She was really drunk by the time I ran into her outside the bathroom and she just grabbed my shoulders and hung on. We kind of stumbled around like that for the rest of the party. Every time I went to kiss her she took a slug from her bottle. She kept telling me how she thought I was so cool even if nobody else did. Then her friends came and dragged her away. The next week she wouldn't look at me in Social Studies class. Acted like there was no way in hell she'd let a lowlife like me stick his tongue down her throat.

So though this page doesn't really represent what the book is about (in a nutshell, the current debate about science and religion) it does represent a pretty clear view of what this particular boy is concerned with: his friends, his father, and girls. I was nervous attempting to write from a 13 year old boy's point of view but Nic just started talking in my head. And the further along I got I realized that actually, deep down, we adults are all still 13-year-olds at heart.
Learn more about the book and author at Nina Killham's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue