Rachel Walker’s family and community have turned away from the world.
Every part of Rachel’s life is controlled, from what she reads to where she goes and what she wears. Her parents dictate how her life must be: marriage, modesty, children and obedience to her future husband. But when a former member of her community, a girl who escaped, moves back to her small Texas town, Rachel’s world turns upside down.
She realises that her life is her own. But can she find the courage to fight for it?
Devoted is such a powerful book, and I think it makes so many important points about religion – and the differences in how people experience it.
I am not religious and it is really hard not to read this and feel that this church is so bad, but I’d hope for some of the parishioners it wasn’t. But I like that we see Rachel try and rationalise her church with her faith, and potential other ways of maintaining her relationship with god. That’s so delicately done.
Part of me also wants to see more of Lauren’s story, though, I actually like that Rachel isn’t your “typical” ex-brainwashed church abuse type story (and I hate that that’s a thing). She just doesn’t fit in that world.
Now, I do firmly believe that their way of thinking and being so firm on parts of the bible and especially on how to treat women or relationships is wrong. But this isn’t really written from that perspective, not fully, and I really respect that.
This definitely has the same power behind it as Moxie, and it’s hard for me to read this and not draw comparisons to Will Hill’s After the Fire, though that takes a much more extreme case of religious fanaticism. And I think that’s what makes this book important to consider – to show that there’s other kinds of religion (especially Christianity), both good and bad.
I’m giving the book 3.5 stars, not because it’s not good (it is) and deserving of more, but because as someone who’s not religious, I spent the entire book just wanting to rescue everyone, and I don’t think that’s the response the author is aiming at. That’s definitely on me, not the writing, but it makes the ending hard to take – it has hope but not enough of it and it’s still very bittersweet.
All in all I would definitely recommend that people read it.
Buy Devoted from Amazon UK.