by Jennifer Mathieu
Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (June 2, 2015)
Sold by: Macmillan
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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.Review:
I must start by saying that Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu is not a religious book, as it does not preach God, Jesus, salvation, or anything of that nature. This is a beautifully written coming of age story about a seventeen-year-old girl, Rachel Walker, who begins to question the very strict rules and teachings of her fundamentalist church. She leads a very protected and very structured life where everything she is allowed to think and believe is told to her by either her Dad or her Pastor. Men rule the world, their word is gospel and women are meant to be nothing more than humble servants to their husbands. Rachel is one of 10 children so all she knows is her strict way of life, always putting her own wants and needs aside to help the every growing family.
All of that changes when Rachel hears rumors that Lauren has moved back to town. Lauren was Rachel’s age when she left the church and her family, and came to be known has an outcast and a bad influence. Rachel stumbles upon Lauren’s blog while on the family’s computer, and for the first time, Rachel imagines what life could be like outside of her church. She wonders about a life where she is free to think and feel and act how she wants to, not how she is told to. This leads to worlds of trouble when Rachel is caught spending too much time on the computer. Rachel’s Dad and Pastor make the decision to send Rachel to a Christian labor camp that will ultimately brainwash Rachel into submission. Rachel has to make the hardest decision of her life – does she stay and serve her family and God the way everyone tells her to, or does she leave everything she has ever known in the hope that she can become truly free?
I did find myself completely swept up in this amazing story. I was nervous every time Rachel was on the computer, fearful her Dad would catch her. I felt the hopelessness Rachel felt when she was not sure what she should do and she felt she was slipping from God. Rachel’s character was beautifully complex and very easy to fall in love with. Lauren’s character was amazingly written, with many damaged layers and many emotions, even after being gone from the church so many years. Reading the interactions between Rachel and Lauren were stunning as you could tell they were both still struggling to find out who they really are in the world. They end up needing each other more than they could ever imagine.
Devoted was a quick yet brilliant read. I would give this story more than five stars if I could. Mathieu’s words and phrases were beautifully written and were a delight to read. I highly recommend this to everyone.
Macmillan has graciously offered us a copy of DEVOTED to give away to one of you! US only, shipped directly from the publisher.
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