Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ARC Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (June 2, 2015)

Description: Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can't shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

My Thoughts: My thoughts are really scattered after reading this book. It shows a world that is so alien to me.

Rachel Walker is a member of a very strict religious sect where young women are taught to dress modestly so as not to incite lust in males and who are taught that their only future role is to be a helpmate to their husband. But Rachel is chafing at the restrictions of her life. She is smart and curious and doubts that she can fit. Not that she isn't devoted to God, she tries to pray and does believe but she has questions she knows she isn't allowed to ask. She sees her older sister Faith who is married with one baby and another on the way by age 20. She sees that her sister sees to fit into the life as if it were made for her.

When Lauren, a young woman who left the congregation six years ago, comes back home, Rachel has someone she can talk to. However, it has to be secret. Once someone leaves the strict Calvary Christian Church it is as though they are dead. Rachel uses the family computer, which she has taught herself to use and uses to manage her father's landscaping business, to begin sharing secret emails with Lauren. When her parents find out about the emails, they decide to send her to Journey of Faith, a camp that reprograms those who are straying. Rachel knows that the camp would change her to someone she isn't. She runs away to Lauren.

Lauren takes her in and helps her find her feet in a world that is really strange to her. Luckily, for both Lauren and Rachel, Lauren's boss at the veterinary clinic and his family help the girls. His real estate agent wife hires Rachel to organize her business which gives her some money and a chance to see what happens in the outside world. Their son Mark also shows her what boys can be like as he offers her friendship with no strings.

This book is great at portraying the range of emotions that Rachel feels. At one point she says that she alternates between mournfulness and euphoria. I enjoyed getting to know Rachel and am hopeful for her future.

Readers who wonder what it might be like inside the world shown on 19 Kids and Counting will enjoy this inside look from the perspective of a young woman who just doesn't fit there.

Favorite Quote:
What if God is saying Rachel, what is it you plan on doing now that I've gifted you with this mind and this heart and this itch to know about the deepest parts of the ocean and the highest crests of the mountains and the darkest edges of space?

What is it you plan to do, Rachel Walker, with this one life I've given you?
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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