Author: Stephanie Oakes
Teen Reviewer: Mikaela Palandra
Rating: 5/5 Stars
The scene starts with Minnow, a 17-year-old girl who’s never seen outside her isolated world in a religious cult, finally escaping to society and assaulting a man in a lapse of rationality. The rest of the novel alternates between her life in prison and flashbacks to her life in the forest and how she ended up in her situation. Throughout the novel, Minnow keeps secrets from authorities and friends, as well as the reader. We only discover her secrets when she is ready to share them with others. The nightmare that the Prophet brought to her life and the crimes of herself and others that led to its destruction are slowly exposed. Minnow comes to terms with her past and creates her own ideas to replace the lies she was taught by the Prophet in order to grow and find passion for life again.
Overall, I rated this book really high because the author managed to handle a lot of dramatic themes without making them overly cheesy and cliché. The religious cult that Minnow was a part of was described in a way that brought the wild and dramatic ideas and occurrences down to earth, so it was seen in a realistic rather than absurd way. Minnow had a relationship with a boy Jude she met in the woods, who was outside her religion. While she did place a lot of importance in him, by the end of the novel, the two did show differences and flaws; again, realistically displaying the troubles even with someone you love. Also, Minnow’s thoughts while in prison reflecting on her past brought her many questions. She learns to be independent and create her own decisions and ideas about life. As a character, she is incredibly strong and thought provoking. As she questions what she once believed about life and the world, she asks herself questions that force you into your own self-reflection. I would recommend this book because its over the top enough to be something different than other YA novels while still being relatable.