Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

DevotedDevoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
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:
Oh this book where do I ever begin.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked this up because sometimes books with a heavy religious theme will not work for me, but this one really worked.  Yes it has religious themes, but don't let that turn you away because it is about so much more than just that.

Rachel has grown up inside Calvary Christian church.  This church has very strict views and most of them center around women not really having privileges.  Each male and female have a role and these roles are not to be questioned by anyone.  I won't go into all their beliefs because it would take me awhile, but I will name a few so you can get an idea of this church's ideas.  Women are to be helpmeets which basically translates to homemaker with a few huge exceptions.  For lack of a better way of saying this women have to wait hand and foot on their husbands, never question their husbands or the church, birth control is a no no so you might have 12 kids, and schooling/jobs are not allowed.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and I have to say I was a little infuriated with this book.  I had to take a step back because while this would not work for me, for some it worked.  The author did a really good job at showing both sides. Rachel on one hand felt suppressed while her sister Faith thrived in the same environment.  I questioned Faiths sanity, but again everybody is different and who am I to tell anyone how to live.  I do wish that their rules would have allowed people who didn't share their views to still be allowed to socialize with church members.  My heart broke for Rachel when she chose her path and certain events transpired.  I was proud of her for having the courage and outraged by the aftermath.  It just isn't right!

I don't know a lot about this type of strict religion and after reading this I am definitely intrigued. What draws people to these types of extremist church's?  Who starts this and how do they get members?  Where were these church's founded?  I honestly have so many questions and I am really going to start looking into this!

I said before that religion is not what this is all about and its not.  Yes there is a lot of Scripture and a lot of heavy view points, but underneath all that is Rachel.  She is a character who is just trying to find her place in the world and finds herself stuck somewhere she doesn't want to be.  She is very intelligent and wants to know everything, but the church limits her.  When Lauren, a former member who left the church, moves back to town Rachel finds a way to reach out to her and this gives her an opening she didn't have before.  Rachels courage was amazing and I loved watching her come into her own.

The secondary cast of characters like Mark, Lauren, and Diane were amazing. They didn't make Rachel feel like she was an outcast or alien.  I loved how open and honest Rachel was with each of them and it was very endearing.  I was so happy that she had such a strong group of people around her who just wanted to show her life wasn't all about Calvary.

This book really touched my heart and made me see what I take for granted.  Even access to a computer without someone telling you what is allowed to look up is a privilege.  This book opened my eyes and I can't wait to dive into my own research.

4 Snowflakes


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