I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Macmillan on June 2, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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.
It’s always tricky writing about religion, or any kind of faith journey, but Devoted did a beautiful job of presenting an emotional and engaging story. Rachel is a member of a family that aligns itself with Quiverfull beliefs (think Duggars) and while it is not a perfect life, in her mind, its not a bad one either. Her voice is essential to this story because it is her thoughts that reveal the slow and painful realization that perhaps this way of believing isn’t the way she wants to live her life. The financial struggles her father constantly battles, her mother’s emotional challenges, and her own sense of being overwhelmed by a life that seems both too much and too small at the same time, all start to close in on her. Rachel’s life is heavy with responsibility, and in everything that she does, she is constantly reminding herself to stay in line and to be the daughter, friend, and future wife that she is meant to be. The whole time, though, her wish for more and her true spirit, struggles to shine through. What I really loved about Devoted, though, was how Rachel fought to shed the parts of her life that shackled her and keep the things that brought her fulfillment. The fear, the guilt, and the longing for more was beautifully written and once I started Devoted, I couldn’t put it down.
I truly believe that this book will strike a chord with many readers because Rachel’s journey is one that we have all been on at one time or another. Whether you questioned your beliefs or the way you lived you life, the act of stepping away from where you thought you belonged in order to find a place for yourself is universal. Devoted was clearly well researched and was able to deftly balance Rachel’s questions without bashing religion. I mention that because I think it would have been easy to go down that road, but Devoted really focused on Rachel’s journey and let the story, and Rachel’s thoughts, speak for themselves. I hope that everyone will read this book because I think its thoughtfulness and excellent storytelling really brought Rachel and her whole family to life in a way that has really stayed with me.