The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

Rating = ★★★★★

Goodreads Summary:

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.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself. 

AMAZING. PHENOMENAL. INSERT 700 MORE SIMILAR ADJECTIVES HERE. THIS BOOK FUCKED ME UP.

This isn’t a love story. It isn’t a mystery. It isn’t a contemporary. It isn’t fantasy. It is its own book, it cannot fit into any particular category. Yes it is based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but it is SUCH a reinterpretation that it is barely connected to the original story in my opinion… so you can’t even call it a fairy tale retelling. It is unique, intriguing, and well done.

My favorite part of this book was Minnow herself. The one fault I found in her was that she picked up on dry humor a bit too fast I thought. Considering how sheltered she grew up, I found it a bit unbelievable that she was so good at being dry funny after not that long. That being said, I enjoyed her dialogue and her sense of humor, so I didn’t dwell too much on the particulars of it! She was emotional, strong – but still scared, courageous, curious, smart, and reflective. I loved learning about her journey of self discovery – it was difficult for her to understand that she didn’t need to follow anybody else’s beliefs in order to learn about the world. She was allowed to have her own opinions and come to her own conclusions. And the duality of her wanting happiness but also feeling like she deserved to be punished… she was such a stubborn little shit! She wouldn’t do what was necessary to get herself a good future.

I like that this book looked at the problems of religious cults without attacking religion or christianity itself. It pointed out that some people who are zealous in their faith can be dangerous, but that there are ways of believing and practicing that don’t hurt anybody… and the bottom line is it’s okay to have faith or to have that need to believe in something. This whole motif was such an interesting one to explore – it definitely felt like one that is not often tapped in ya literature. And can I just say how refreshing it was to have a theme that did not focus on love! That in and of itself was enough to make me devour and adore this book. Sure love is in it, but it is not central to the story, and (semi-spoiler) it is flimsy and not earth-shattering. Minnow and Jude were important not because they had a star-crossed destiny epic sort of love story, but because he represent the beginning of Minnow’s active deviation/rebellion from the Kevinians. But it was just her first love, it wasn’t her only love and it’s important because it was a milestone in her life, but the specific love between the two of them wasn’t important.

I really thought Minnow’s relationship with Angel was the amazing and seriously important one. First of all I definitely sympathized with both of them (especially Minnow because duh you’re supposed to, she’s the main character and therefore you can’t help it) and was rooting for them and didn’t even care that they were criminals who had committed serious crimes. What they did was justified and they had it coming. Secondly, Minnow and Angel just rock. They fit well together and it was so freaking adorable that the tough girl Angel fell for Minnow (in a friendship way) who was the most naive know-nothing girl ever. Because even though Minnow knew nothing of the world, she was still smart and had some instincts and had something interesting to contribute and was tough. She didn’t take shit, and Angel respected her and was interested in her. Finally, their dialogue together and relationship progression was an absolute privilege to read about. It was well-written and fast but thoughtful, They cracked me up, made me cry, and had me invested in them. Minnow sees Angel knight-like quality and brainiac tendencies, and Angel sees Minnow’s fierceness and genuine curiosity.

The plot itself was definitely page-turning! The fast-paced parts paired well with the parts that were more of reflective interior monologues of Minnow. I was intrigued to figure out what the hell happened to her village, and what had lead to that first scene in the book, but the author made sure to build the suspense by sporadically giving you background sections from Minnow, and even Minnow’s dad and sometimes Kevin’s lives. But the action parts where pieces of the puzzle start to come together were intense, jarring, graphic, and had me hooked! From the opening scene forward my jaw was just dropped and I was glued to the pages. Just absolutely stellar writing, gah!

So yeah, many many interesting and different characters, varies but fantastic writing style, interesting plot, and a unique focus! Bravo.

All of the stars! This book is gonna be a hard one to beat this year! I would recommend this to fans of “We Were Liars,” The Hunger Games, or Laurie Halse Anderson.

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