A quirky coming-of-age story for middle school readers that touches on many modern issues faced by young people: bullying, social pressures, homophobia, religious intolerance, and dating.
Poor Ben just had his life turned upside down. His parents move him from Boston to a small town in Colorado where everyone keeps strict religious beliefs, and the new rules and beliefs confound him. The kids at his high school talk about being "saved" and try to convert him, then pick on him for his atheist beliefs. His crush Tess is the only one who treats him kindly, but soon her parents forbid them from seeing each other because he doesn't believe in God. And his only friend at school, James, is struggling with his own problems trying to take care of his alcoholic mother. If only Ben's older brother and sister were around to help, but Pete is serving in Iraq and Emily is off at college with her own life lessons to learn. It's a lot to handle, but Ben's upbeat attitude and introspective demeanor help him confront his close-minded classmates and overcome his own prejudices.