Alternating between a woman’s childhood in a small town and as an adult in the city, this novel traces a Jehovah Witness family’s splintering belief system, their isolation, and the erosion of their relationships. As Emily becomes closer to her closeted Uncle Tyler, she begins to challenge her upbringing. Her questions about the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ insular lifestyle, rigid codes of conduct, and tenets of their faith haunt her older sister Lenora too. When Lenora disappears, everything changes and Emily becomes obsessed with taking on her sister’s identity, believing that Lenora is controlling her actions. Ultimately, Emily finds release through self-mutilation.
Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star
I loved everything about this book. I am quickly becoming a fan of ECW Press as they publish quality and unexpected gems like this one. The book intrigued me from the beginning as who hasn`t had a Jehovah`s Witness come to their door and I did know a bit about their faith so I thought this would be an interesting somewhat inside (although fictional) look into what it would be like to be part of them.
The main character, Emily, was wise beyond her years in some ways yet so sheltered in others. The story goes between past and present and the present left me feeling somewhat unbalanced yet wanting to know more. I loved the way that the story flowed and kept me intrigued to know more and eventually figure out what was going on. The parts from the present were much less straightforward than the parts set in the past so at times I found myself somewhat confused but eventually I got that this was probably also a facet of her mindset. The author was able to create two very distinct personalities in the same character and you could clearly see the changes that time and circumstance had wrought on Emily.
The story was not conventional by any means and that as definitely part of its appeal to me. Not only was Emily raised as a Jehovah`s Witness, there was also her closeted uncle and her rebellious sister that added their own personal elements to the story.
I am definitely looking forward to the next novel by Jennifer as I cannot imagine what she could possibly write to top this one but I am sure that based on her fantastic descriptions and the very fact that she was able to come up with something so interesting that she will find a way to.
Thank you to ECW Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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