Saint Training

by Elizabeth Fixmer

Mary Clare O’Brian is the oldest daughter in a large Catholic family living... read more

Mary Clare O’Brian is the oldest daughter in a large Catholic family living in fictional Littleburg, Wisconsin, in 1967. She bears much of the responsibility for caring for her younger siblings, and with her parents tense because money is tight, Mary Clare bargains with God: if He’ll help provide, she’ll strive to become a saint. This inspires her ongoing correspondence with the Mother Superior of a Minnesota convent—Mary Clare intends to become a nun and eventually take over the Mother Superior’s post, figuring this is good positioning for future sainthood. Issues of the era—Mary Clare’s mother is reading The Feminine Mystique, her oldest brother is registering for the draft as a Conscientious Objector, and Father Groppi’s involvement in civil rights in Milwaukee is a point of debate among Catholics—are seamlessly woven into a story by first-time Wisconsin author Elizabeth Fixmer that is first and foremost about a smart, spirited, take-charge girl coming of age during tumultuous times. This account of Mary Clare’s gradually maturing perspective on her family, her religion, and the wider world is often hilarious but also deeply moving. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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