Why isn’t there more buzz about this book? Everyone should be talking about this book, if only for the premise I couldn’t quite believe – Minnow’s hands are removed by her cult. Say What? Surely it is metaphorical, right. Uh, no. Girl gets her hands cut off by the cult leader as punishment. Crazy. And crazy good. Minnow is an intriguing character, and I thoroughly enjoyed her journey. I’ve read several cult books this year (did you know that was a thing -YA books about coming of age in a cult?) and several fairy tale retellings (I had no idea Grimm could be this grim). This was by far the best, and if you like a haunting and beautiful, if disturbing, Bildungsroman, you will have to search long and hard to find one that surpasses this strange little gem.
With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.
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.
Whenever I come across a book that is such a mix of dark and bright, I’m always intrigued, but I found this book and it’s haunting prose particularly impressive for its ability to surprise me at almost every turn. I didn’t know anything about these characters or the plot, but I managed to make assumptions about everything, all of which the author carefully and thoughtfully disproves time and again. Of course the plot is compelling because Minnow is the only one with all the answers, and she is holding her cards close right up until the end. The author’s true craft, though, is in the narrative, which seamlessly slips between the past and present, building suspense and giving a true reckoning of a girl that isn’t as weak and naive as circumstances would have you initially believe. Minnow is a character who would be so easy to pity, but she is so much more than the things that have been done to her, and the author succeeded in drawing her as a complex character that lives and breathes beyond the page. Readers will be horrified as details become clearer, but they won’t doubt for a moment that Minnow is going to survive. I particularly enjoyed the friendship that formed between her and her hardened teen cell mate. Their sisterhood is a nice parallel to the twisted sisterhood that failed to protect Minnow when she needed it most. Themes of friendship, forgiveness, revenge and love add real depth to the story, but the biggest message is finding your own truth in a world where others will use their idea of truth to enslave you. I had never read the Grimm’s fairytale that inspired this book, but when I did, I was pretty awestruck by the brilliance of this reimagining. I think my high school students will enjoy this book, especially those who enjoyed Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s in Me and it’s enigmatically silent and haunted narrator. Adults, too, will find this book hard to put down. Situations and language make this a book best suited for mature high school readers.
I received an ARC through the Penguin First To Read program in exchange for an honest review.