The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Genre: Young Adult
Originally Published: 9th June 2015
Format: Kindle (400 pages)
Synopsis: The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.
My Rating: ★★★★★
I knew I would enjoy this book when I read the synopsis on Goodreads last year. I have always been interested in religious cults and the people within them. It had been on my tbr for a while and I am so glad that I picked it up when I did. This is a wonderful novel. I didn’t hesitate to give it 5*’s straight away, in fact I knew this would be my rating when I was halfway through the book. From the very first few chapters, I became totally and utterly consumed by this harrowing story.
“I am a blood-soaked girl”
From the very first line, I could not put this book down. Minnow Bly is a teenage girl who is currently being detained in juvenile detention after being found standing over the body of a badly hurt victim. Throughout this book, we learn of Minnow’s background and her life as a member of the Kevinian cult. There are some very harrowing and gory moments in this novel, which may not be for everyone. But for me, it opened my eyes to the extremism and abuse that can be a result of faith. As we take this journey with Minnow, we see her internal struggle over her need to protect those she loves by concealing the truth from those around her.
Through a series of flashbacks, we learn the harrowing story of how Minnow lost her hands, we see her struggle with her feelings for her first love, we watch as Minnow comes to terms with the reality of religion and we learn who murdered the Prophet. One of my favourite things about this book is the way it is written. This is a subject matter which must be treated with care and Stephanie Oakes did just that. Not only did she succeed in creating a realistic, yet disturbing, image of the Community, but I found this novel to be a very emotional read as Minnow’s character comes to terms with the world after the Community. Minnow’s friendship with her cellmate, Angel, is a true highlight of this book. We see Angel help Minnow adapt to her new life, protecting her but also building her character. Their friendship was well written and meaningful; a true friendship.
Oakes treated the relationship between Minnow and Jude with such care that it’s hard not to want to very best for this young couple. Far away from being the conventional couple we see in YA books, Minnow and Jude are brought together by their seclusion from outside society. They have different religions, different beliefs, different races and they are both outsiders in different ways. Their love is a pure and true love, not the stereotypical romance and it is really a breath of fresh air.
What did I love most about the book?
Everything. I can’t think of anything I didn’t love about this book. I felt so emotionally effected by this novel that it has taken me almost a week to put my thoughts into words and I’m not doing this book the service it deserves. The characters are well written, they have depth and personality, leaving us readers feeling a strong emotional connection to them. The world around Minnow is a mixture of beautiful descriptions, with a dash of the horrifying terrors of the Community. I was terrified of the Prophet, protective of Minnow, laughing with Angel and riding a true rollercoaster of emotion.
“Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.”
“I guess people can’t be content without answers, even if they’re wrong. We’d rather have a lie than a question that we can never know the answer to.”
“That’s how you avoid becoming a moth,” he says. “Stop asking others what to believe. Figure it out for yourself.”
“I think you should be angry if you’re angry. But it’s also true that hate has a way of hurting you more than the person you’re hating.”
“Anger is a kind of murder you commit in your heart.” If this is true, I’m a daily murderer. My heart is more full of blood than I ever imagined.”
This book went straight on my favourites shelf on Goodreads. A week later and I still can’t stop thinking about it. If you haven’t read this harrowing, but beautiful story, then I beg you to do so. This story is important and will stay with me for a very, very long time.