Upon graduation, I set out to write the book I wish I could have read in my twenties…for young adults like myself, who find that they can't completely turn away from the religion in which they were raised, and yet find that they are largely a product of, and remain mired in postmodern, secular, mainstream American culture.
I'm in my thirties, married with kids, a practicing Catholic, and I still find myself mired in postmodern, secular, mainstream American culture. Except, perhaps, for a minority of believers, who grew up in the homeschool movement and married young, I think Ellen's story is the central drama for Gen-X Catholics. How do you piece together a functioning faith out of a religion whose traditions no longer speak louder than the world around it?
Ellen Finnigan is an incredibly talented writer. Struggling to answer her boyfriend of two weeks about her reluctance to have sex, she stumbles internally through her own concept of love and the sexual ethics shared by her peers:
My first, instinctive answer ("sex is about love") just felt a little bit too childish and immature for even me to be able to say aloud with any real conviction.
Yet on the other hand, my first, instinctive answer also seemed too serious and, for lack of a better word, adult. It was an idea most people I knew never seemed to ultimately dismiss or eventually grow out of so much as temporarily table (Who doesn't want to believe in love?), but like a fine wine everyone seemed to be saving the real deal with a capital "L" for a time when they would, presumably, be more mature and would meet the right, certain kind of person with whom they would be ready and willing to take on permanent responsibilities and commitments, at which time the bottle (having of course only gotten better with age, or so the story went) would be opened in full ceremony, embraced, indulged and enjoyed. But it seemed like it was understood and implicitly agreed to that, until then, everyone was getting by on the boxed stuff, living modestly within their means, respecting the limitations of others and kindly requesting that other people respect theirs, not asking too much, not expecting too much. Looking at it this way, the idea was not childish so much as uncouth, if not irresponsible: It is unwise to splurge!
The Me Years is a love story. You'll be drawn in because of Finnigan's romance with a man, but the real story is about how one woman's faith shifts from a peripheral and vague notion of love as Eros to a central and profound understanding of love as Agape, and in this way she grows into the Catholic faith with which her parents gifted her at birth.