The Boy Who Called God “She” by Nancy Springer
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (10 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Derek relishes being the bully of his Catholic school, and when Julian arrives with his purple hair, he seems like an easy target. When Julian starts asserting that God might actually be a woman, Derek is immediately enraged and becomes determined to get Julian to recant his thought, no matter the price. It soon becomes apparent that perhaps Julian has some strength Derek isn’t quite prepared for, and that the boy with the purple hair knows something more than he’s telling.
Does God change? How can you know what he or she really thinks about humanity?
I’d never thought about viewing society through the eyes of a bully before. Derek is definitely not an easy guy to like. He seems to know exactly how to sniff out the weaknesses in others and manipulate them to to best suit his agenda. In Derek’s mind there is no space for vulnerability, creativity or admitting that you’re wrong in any circumstances. The world is a dualistic beast and the only way one survives is by staying one step ahead of everyone else. It must be terrible to be confronted with someone, then, who defies all of the rules you thought applied to everyone.
This is where the story grows even more interesting. A freethinker and budding intellectual, Julian disrupts all of Derek’s assumptions about how life should work. It is through the clash of their ideas that I ended up finding sympathy for Derek. Bullies gather strength through fear, silence and intimidation. It is only when this illusion of agreement is broken that everyone sees their true faces.
Derek’s eventual reaction to his interactions with Julian seemed disingenuous. In my experience most people retain the same personality, character strengths and flaws throughout their lives. Barring serious emotional trauma the core of who someone is and how he or she interacts with the world at fifteen is almost always the same twenty, forty or sixty years later. As much as I wanted to believe the ending I kept waiting for Derek’s true self to emerge once again.
The Boy Who Called God “She” contains more questions than answers. If you like asking questions and following each inquiry as far as it will go this is a good book to spark your imagination.