Changing Habits by Debbie Macomber

Reviewed by Vicki Carver

It is always a rewarding experience to find an author whose books are able to pull the reader into the plot and keep the reader intrigued throughout the entire story to its conclusion. Such was the experience of reading a new book by Debbie Macomber called Changing Habits.

Changing Habits focuses on three young women who all make the difficult decision to become nuns during the late 1950’s – mid 1960’s. Angelina Marcello is influenced by a teacher, Sister Trinita, and decides to enter a convent against her father’s wishes to become a teacher. Kathleen O’Shaughnessy, another teacher, is from a large Irish family and just believes it is her destiny to become a nun as well as her family’s expectation for her. Joanna Baird, who becomes a nurse, decides to become a nun after learning that her fiancé has married another women while serving in Vietnam.

All three women meet at St. Bridget’s Convent in Minneapolis and begin their professional lives while struggling with all the changes, both within the convent and in the outside world. Vatican II in 1962 has brought about huge changes for all Catholics but particularly nuns. One of the most striking changes is the transition from the traditional nun’s habit to more conventional attire. The Latin Mass is spoken in English instead of the traditional Latin. The rules that nuns have followed for hundreds of years are breaking down leaving many women unsure about their roles as sisters. Also, the Vietnam War, changing political values and women’s issues are changing the complexion of America.

Angeline, Kathleen and Joanne all have struggles to contend with which eventually influence their decisions to leave the convent and re-enter the secular world. The story of each woman is explored in Changing Habits as well as their relationships with each other. Angelina becomes involved again in operating her father’s restaurant. Kathleen and Joanne both face difficult decisions about romantic relationships which develop as they adjust to secular life. The plot is compelling and keeps moving throughout the book.

After finishing Changing Habits it is apparent that Debbie Macomber is an accomplished author and that a visit to the library to find more of her books is imminent.


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