Published by Roaring Brook Press on June 2nd, 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Buy on 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.
How am I supposed to review this? How?
First off, you should know that I generally avoid books like this. I usually avoid religious topics like the plague. As a firm atheist, I just have no interest in reading about any kind of religion. I chose to become an atheist, partly because I wanted to eradicate that shit from my life. I was an atheist before I moved to South Carolina, but something about living in the bible belt cemented that decision as the right one. Therefore, reading topics like this REALLY piss me off.
I want to beat the shit out of Rachel and Lauren’s parents for all forms of child abuse: physical, verbal, mental…okay not sexual but it happens in the Quiverfull movement. More than a few times. It’s gross, it’s disgusting, and no child should ever be brainwashed or forced to live this way. I felt horrible not only for Rachel but for her siblings and the upbringing they face that will shut them away from the rest of the world and their chances of escape are incredibly slim. Then I think about Westboro and those poor kids. All of these parents should be fucking locked up forever.
The book is all about religion, but it’s not preachy and it does not present Quiverfull in a positive light at all. It doesn’t present all religion as bad, though. I find organized religion incredibly harmful and dangerous (all of it) but I appreciate this perspective because people should have the right to choose whether to believe or not. And I know some perfectly fine people who are also religious. My best friends are of similar perspectives as I am though, and I think I am always going to be closer to people who understand where I am coming from on an intellectual level.
I liked the writing, the characters, the plot—it was all well done, and there is nothing specific that I want to talk about when it comes to technical book elements. I think it was a pretty solid book–maybe not groundbreaking or incredibly special, but I think it’s an important topic and I am glad the author handled it with so much grace and maturity. It was incredibly respectful to the survivors of such a harmful, abusive, religious movement.
This is one of those YA books I love because there was very little romance, and what romance there is was approached in a natural way that progressed with the story as it unfolded. It didn’t feel forced, contrived, or jammed in there. It happened as it would in real life. That’s great because it didn’t come on until the last third of the book, and it was sweet.
What I appreciated most about Devoted was the realism. I know I am commenting on this from the perspective of an outsider, but the events after Rachel’s escape and leading up to it, felt right. This is how it would happen in real life. It was messy, sad, but also hopeful. Rachel found a friend in Lauren, and started to get curious about life outside of her house. What was she missing? Did she really want to spend the rest of her life married at so young, stuck in a house popping out babies, and forced to defer to her husband on everything? So she got out. But she missed her family and felt guilt (which I completely understand on a personal level), and moved into a tiny one bedroom to sleep on a couch. It just felt really natural. That was important to me.
Devoted is not the kind of book I read for enjoyment. I was asked to read this one by the publisher, and that’s the only reason I picked it up. I would probably not have ever picked this one up on my own. But I liked it. It was completely a difficult read and the ending made me emotional and I hate that sometimes, but eh. I think it’s one that should be read by all. It’s so important that move about Quiverfull gets out there. The Duggars are disgusting and they always HAVE been disgusting.