You’ve been told your entire life that your sole purpose in this world is to be a wife and mother. You’re not allowed to have feelings. You’re not allowed to read. You’re not allowed to think. You’re not allowed to be.

Title: Devoted
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Rating: 9
Source: Raincoast Books for review

Description:

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.

Devoted Jennifer Mathieu quote

What I Thought:

This was a fascinating look at an extremely repressive religion and one young woman’s redemption from it.

Mathieu masterfully captured the corrupted thought patterns of someone who has been brainwashed from birth to believe themselves worthless, sinful, and inexhaustibly servile.

Rachel as a character was very well developed, and her actions and reactions all seemed natural for her. Mathieu completely pulled me as a reader into Rachel’s mind and thoughts. I especially empathized with her about her love of books. It broke my heart that she wasn’t allowed to even read A Wrinkle in Time!

As a religious person I was a little wary before starting this book and was worried that it might take the narrative that so many cult escapist stories take, that all religion is evil and all religious people are horrible. I was pleasantly surprised to find this take a more realistic approach to the situation – some religions are terrible and some religions have terrible people in them. But there are so many healthy religions that promote love and charity.

I loved that even though her parents and terrible church completely repressed any individual thought from her, she still sought out her own relationship with God. She believed in a kind and loving God, not a restrictive and spiteful one.

Reading the scenes where her brothers and father don’t lift a finger to help in the running of their own home really irked me. And by irked I mean infuriated. (As I write this my husband is putting a screaming baby to sleep, and I am 100% certain he will go straight downstairs and move a load of laundry over when he’s done. I *cannot* imagine trying to run a house on my own! THAT is the definition of a helpmeet, not a spouse who is a virtual slave to the other.)

I wish that we had seen the climax of the book in real time. Instead what happens is the book skips over it and tells it to us through her memory. It would have been a much more dramatic moment if we didn’t already know the outcome.

The ending was perfect for this story. I got the closure I needed without having everything spelled out for me in excruciating detail. Love endings like that!

Devoted Jennifer Mathieu quote

Adventure:
Booksinthewild Instagram Erin Rolfson Devoted

This shot was taken at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. It’s an incredibly beautiful botanical garden. We spent an entire morning here wandering, exploring and smelling the gorgeous flowers.

 

Extras:

Find out more about the author (including other books she’s written) here at her website.

 

TL;DR:

You’ve lived your entire life as a prisoner without even knowing you were behind bars. You catch a glimpse of freedom. Now what?