Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Devoted is a very timely book given the plethora of stories about 19 Kids and Counting that makes people question their life choices even more than before. It is a quick, compelling read. The book isn't an easy title, because so many difficult issues are touched upon, but ultimately it has a sense of hope that I enjoyed.
Rachel is not the type of girl you would stereotypically break with her religion. She not rebellious nor brash. She spends most of her life caring for her younger siblings and her older brothers who apparently can't do anything for themselves. She cares deeply for her younger siblings and her mother and respects / fears her father (which seems to be the sentiment her father wants). At the same time, she knows that her life path is to get married very young and have loads of children, just like her faithful older sister and that doesn't seem like much of a future when it's already her life. Plus, she thirsts for knowledge. To read books like Wrinkle In Time, for which she is punished. To learn anything and everything.
What I liked best about Rachel is her quiet bravery. She doesn't make waves within her family until she's forced to. And then out in the "real world," she carefully adjusts to a new way of life. Throughout, she has an inherent idea of who she is and what she wants (even if she couldn't articulate it) and doesn't allow anyone else to define her.
Rachel escapes from her father and pastor into an entirely different world. She lives with Lauren, who is the stereotypically rebellious girl who broke with their church. She comes off as angry and preachy about her desire to be the opposite of the church. But she grows into a more full fledged character as the book goes on.
I thought the religious aspects of this book were handled very well. The uber conservative Christian church Rachel grew up in comes off as very stifling and horrific towards women. But Rachel doesn't do a 180 turn. She comes to know positive people in her life (even a possible love interest!) who bring her to a church where she can continue to exercise her faith but also be herself.
I really enjoyed this book even if it wasn't enjoyable. If I had any criticisms, it is that the men in her family and pastor veered towards cookie cutter evil. The women varied between being overly rigid and very innocent. I wish there had been at least one semi-positive portrayal of a man within that church, to introduce the idea that it was possible. But otherwise, I thought the characters were drawn subtly but also three dimensionally. Definitely a worthy read for anyone fascinated by different cultures and religions or by the Duggars.
Recommendation: Solid Buy
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