Born Again

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September 06, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Like any coming-of-age tale, Kelly Kerney’s debut, Born Again, tags the requisite bases: rebellious older siblings, unrequited crushes, and the physical terrorism of puberty. But the crux of this self-confessed ”recovering born-again Christian” author’s tale is her protagonist’s faith. Mel, a devout 14-year-old from Slow Rapids, Ind., finds her evangelical fervor shaken by family troubles, schoolyard alienation, and a purloined copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species. As a girl, she is charmingly real and sympathetic. But as a narrator, she’s less satisfying; her search for a secular truth ends abruptly and inconclusively. Or perhaps, like its young author’s, Mel’s story is simply unfinished.

Born Again

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