Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: January 5th 2016

5 OUT OF 5 STARS

“What is it I plan to do with my one wild and precious life?”

Rachel has always known what God’s plan for her future was. Soon she would be getting married, having children and raising them to honour the Lord. She spends most of her days practising domestic life and being a good helpmeet. When Lauren, a girl who abandoned Rachel’s church, comes back from the city Rachel is curious. Despite being warned she begins to communicate with Lauren and she realizes that maybe she could have her own future.

Devoted is an excellent read about a girl finding herself after leaving a negative situation. Rachel’s life is never made dramatically terrible. There is no obvious abuse within her family, just a quiet tradition of oppression that everyone has grown to accept. The lack of tragedy in Rachel’s past makes the book more powerful because while abuse is very real more often than not these sorts of churches just foster a lifestyle where women are oppressed without realizing it.

Matthieu examines the lifestyle Rachel leads critically, but never dismisses Christianity as a whole. Devoted shows some of the uglier (though not ugliest) sides of almost cult-like Christianity – but it also offers up other interpretations of the religion. Interpretations that allow freedom, love and inclusion while still keeping your beliefs. It carefully balances good people who believe and who don’t as well as bad people who believe and who don’t. Matthieu has written such a respectful and honest representation of religion when it would have been easy to sensationalise and exaggerate and that takes a lot of integrity.

There are hints of flirtation but there is no real romance plot that would threaten to burden or overshadow the focus on Rachel finding herself.Instead, much of the book focuses on platonic love between family and friends. Rachel loves her family despite being unhappy with life at home, she makes friends who she grows to love and shares her true self with.

Devoted is a powerful portrayal of a girl questioning her beliefs and ultimately finding her own way to believe. It is a refreshing young adult read and doesn’t fall into any obvious tropes or clichés. A fantastic feminist read that will leave readers thinking. Perfect for anyone fascinated by the Duggar family or the Quiverfull movement in general.

For Fans Of: Only Ever Yours

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