If you’re looking to do a bit of religious exploration or just in need of a book to read, look no further than these stories I’ve enjoyed. Each book follows the theme of religious exploration with a dash of humor to lighten things up.
- Does My Head Look Big In This? is the story of a Muslim Australian teenager who decides to start wearing the hijab (head covering) full-time. It’s hard to believe that Amal is only a character, as she describes prejudice, friends, and life as a religious teen with hilarious, relatable detail. I learned a lot about Palestinian culture and gained a much greater understanding and respect of the customs she follows. It is also one of the most laugh-out-loud funny books I’ve ever read.
- Confessions of a Closet Catholic is about a Jewish girl questioning her faith, so she decides to try being Catholic (which includes doing confession to a teddy bear, one of her more absurd practices). It’s more for tweens and isn’t as good or funny as Does My Head Look Big In This?, but Jussy is still relatable as someone doubting themselves, a theme we can all identify with.
- The Chosen is a classic novel following the friendship of two Jewish boys living in 1940s Brooklyn. One is more secular and the other is an Orthodox son of an important Hasidic rabbi. Anyone who picks up this book will learn so much about Jewish culture and the divisions within the religion. I’m Jewish and I finished the book knowing more than I had before, and really growing to love the boys, Reuven and Danny.
- This isn’t a teen book, but Lamb: the Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is so mind-blowingly uproarious that I couldn’t leave it off. The title is pretty self-explanatory; it’s a comedy of what growing up with Jesus was like, and gives an account of what those years between childhood and adulthood were like for him from the POV of Biff, his clueless best friend. Surprisingly, for such a comical story, I learned so much about the origins of Christianity (even if the quibbling personalities of the Apostles were probably farces!) and have a totally new view of Christ as the lovable, kind, adventurous Joshua who we follow on adventures through India, Africa, and the Roman cities.
-Margaret, 15, Teen Center Adviser