Sometimes I read a book and immediately want to re-read it. This is the case with Agatha of Little Neon, a debut novel by Claire Luchette.
Agatha is a nun, who, along with her three fellow sisters in a diocese in Buffalo, New York, has been diligently serving the lord. Agatha has felt safe, anonymous and lucky to have become part of a close-knit group of women. For years, Frances, Mary Lucille, and Therese have been her constant companions and they have fulfilled Agatha’s need for connection. When their diocese goes bankrupt, the four sisters are sent to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to oversee and become caretakers for a half-way house where they encounter addiction and real-world problems that are often out of their control.
It is there that Agatha, who is reeling from the loss of their convent and from being separated from Mother Roberta, their beloved Mother Superior, is forced further from her comfort zones into learning and teaching geometry at a local girl’s school because of shortages. There, too, is where Agatha begins to become disenfranchised with the Catholic Church and to question her limited role in it.
Not only are Agatha’s story and journey compelling, the language alone in this novel kept me turning the pages with its short, vignette-like chapters, filled with Agatha’s poignant and thoughtful ruminations. Agatha of Little Neon is a charming and smart, quiet novel of self discovery. Read it, and then maybe read it again.