About the Book

Title: Devoted
Published: 2015
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Cover Story: Wistful Window Gazing
BFF Charm: Let Me Love You
Talky Talk: Just A Quiverfull Of Shame Makes The Restrictions Go Down
Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factors: Current Events, Cults
Relationship Status: Escape Partner

Cover Story: Wistful Window Gazing

This cover is objectively pretty – the colors and typesetting are warm and glowing – and it gives the appearance that the girl is trapped, looking out to a world she’s not part of. On the other hand, it has a seriously romantic vibe that just doesn’t work for what is a rather heavy book.

The Deal

Rachel Walker has been raised in an extremely religious household – one where her entire purpose in life is to marry an approved man and birth similarly religious babies. Education? Adventure? Not in God’s – or Rachel’s – plan. But as Rachel reaches marrying age, she is less and less interested in this version of life. Is this all there is?

When Rachel discovers a former Cavalry Church member’s blog, she is shocked but intrigued by the life Lauren Sullivan is living. Lauren swims in a bikini, dyes her hair funky colors, has tattoos, and lives wherever she wants – but most importantly, she has control over her own destiny. As Rachel’s family becomes more and more oppressive, she considers leaving the incredibly insular community and striking out into the hedonistic world outside.

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

BFF charm with teary eyes hugging a heart

Rachel is truly doing the best she can under the circumstances – she was raised in a way that kept her totally ignorant of the world around her as she cares for her younger siblings (she’s one of ten) and prepares to be a proper “helpmeet.” As Rachel comes to terms with her true feelings for her family’s way of life, she displays remarkable grace and maturity. I just wanted to hug her, and reassure her that everything is going to be okay.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

There’s a little outside-the-religion romance in this book – nothing steamy, but there is definitely a nice love interest who values Rachel for her personality rather than her potential as incubator and domestic servant. And that is pretty damn swoonworthy when you think about it.

Talky Talk: Just A Quiverfull Of Shame Makes The Restrictions Go Down

While Rachel never really mentions the Quiverfull movement by name, the Bible passage to which the name refers is quoted – in fact, a lot of Bible passages are used in this book. It’s an effective device that illustrates how Rachel has been taught to think. When she struggles with a problem, she thinks about which verse is applicable to her plight, and when her family is unhappy with her, they too use Bible verses to remind her of how wrong she is. It’s a great way of showing that the Bible, and religion in general, can be a tool for spiritual health or harm, depending on how it’s used. (Lest you think this is an anti-religion book, Rachel and Lauren do not turn away from Christianity, but they do gain insight as to why that particular brand was harmful to them and others.)

Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factor: Current Events

A clipping from an article with a photo of a woman and the headline, Ashley Cordova, 24, Found Dead

With all the horrible reports coming from the Duggar’s corner lately, this book (released on June 2, 2015) had impeccable timing. Although this book does not deal with anything quite as dark as what Josh Duggar is accused of, it still provides insight into a world where women simply are not given a voice. (I feel bad calling this a “bonus” factor, because no one wants to hear that children have been victimized and crimes were covered up. On the other hand, this book is an excellent portrayal of what the day-to-day life of Quiverfull women might be like.)

Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factor: Cults

There are a lot of cult books out this year, but Devoted is among the better ones. Mathieu has done a nuanced job of portraying the Quiverfull cult as full of flawed people, not one-dimensional villains – but all the tell-tale cult signs are there. There are charismatic leaders who aren’t to be questioned, the shunning of everyone outside the cult, the restriction of information and education, and the threat of punishment and excommunication for disobedience. While I usually find cults to be fascinating, this one is heartbreaking because it’s real

Relationship Status: Escape Partner

Book, our first date might have been your first date ever, but I thought you were a real catch. You were intelligent, complex, and ultimately we ended the night on a hopeful note. I’m glad you took the leap and decided to explore your own path.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Macmillan. I received neither money nor a pet unicorn for writing this review, despite how hard I wished for one. Devoted is available now.