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Read With Us: Agatha of Little Neon Discussion

As promised yesterday, it’s time for our All Things Agatha discussion. In case you haven’t seen it, this is my review of the book:

Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Claire Luchette’s debut novel is sharp and funny with prose that gets right to the point. I would have enjoyed a little more backstory on Agatha’s life, and I’m hoping for a sequel that continues her tale, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about the lives of modern day sisters working in rehab.

My question for all of you focuses on Agatha’s backstory. I’d have liked more of it so that I could have developed a better understanding of why she chose to become a sister . . . and also why she then chose to leave it behind. I’m asking you, in the comments, to speculate on who Agatha was before she took her vows . . . and then what lead her to change her mind.

I’d tell you what I think but I don’t want to influence your own ideas so I’m going to stay silent . . . for now!

Please also visit Kym and Bonny today to read their questions and give them feedback, too.

As a reminder, our zoom discussion is tonight at 7:00pm EST. If you need a zoom invite please let me know straight away.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. I’m sure we’ll discuss this in depth tonight! I agree with you that I wanted to know more about her. My theory is that trauma in her early life drove her to take vows, and I think becoming a sister was more of an act of avoidance rather than true devotion to faith.

  2. Although there isn’t a lot of backstory, Agatha does tell us she wanted to “be invisible” — and even more so after her mother died. So, yeah. I agree with Sarah . . . trauma in her early life, and not being able to “see” who she could be. I think it’s interesting that she chose to become a sister . . . “invisible” (in her crowd) but highly “visible” – as in sticks out like a sore thumb (to the outside world). She only begins to see herself when she peels off from the rest of her sisters to start teaching . . .
    Fascinating question!

  3. Oh, excellent question! And one I pondered while I read Agatha… I think she was looking for something that was missing (family) and looked for it in the place she thought she would find it… and that she would fit in.

    But she gave us some great clues at the start of the book, ones that I did not really note until later in the book. And, for me, it felt like Luchette allowed us to be in Agatha’s shoes as she figured out what she was really looking for.

  4. Ha! I just said the same thing in my comment on Bonny’s blog – that I wish we new more of her story from the get-go. I have to agree that some kind of trauma caused her to become a sister. Maybe her mother’s death? No mention of that at the end of the book. It would be great if there were a follow-up novel to this.

  5. I’m in agreement with everyone else, the loss of Agatha’s mother at a young age was traumatic enough that she looked for a place she could fit in. The Church provided that, “I didn’t have to come up with a way to be all right.” That night several nuns visited the gas station and showed Agatha that the Church might provide a place for Agatha to live her life without being lonely seemed to serve as her calling. I think she began to leave it behind when she left Little Neon to teach and discovered a whole world out there. She had begun to explore things unrelated to the Church and found that maybe she did fit in in the outside world.

  6. I was fine with the amount of back story. I think that Agatha chose religious life as a way to leave behind her pain and loneliness and hide from the world. The few nuns I know would say that she became a nun for the wrong reasons.
    Once she moved from Buffalo and from her dependence on her mother superior, she began to grow into adulthood and discover her true self. While she left the institution of the church, I think her faith in God was actually strengthened. So many young people today identify as “nones”, they have walked away from the institution of the church, but remain faithful to God. Like Agatha, they are disillusioned with corruption, the sex abuse scandal, and rules that are senseless and hurt certain groups of people. In the end I felt hopeful that Agatha was on a path of personal growth and discovery.

  7. So many wonderful comments! I do believe that Agatha wanted to disappear. Early on she mentions praying to be ordinary. Even in school teachers did not even remember her name. When her mother died she was no longer invisible. Her mother’s death also raised conflicts within her that lead to her decision to become a nun. The scene in the gas station shows the collegial relationship between the nuns. Entering religious life would allow her to not feel so alone while disappearing in her habit. As she said people often saw their habit first and not their faces. Teaching at the high school opened her eyes to the outside world at a time when the Church faced deeply concerning issues. I agree that she left the Church but not God.

  8. Great discussion. I think she became a sister to belong to a group that she could just be with and do what was requested of her and put her past behind her. I think becoming a teacher changed her, really took her out of her comfort zone. She saw a world she hadn’t seen in quite a while. I think she enjoyed having the other sisters around but she just matured and wanted to do more.

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