Jun 9, 2015

Review & Giveaway: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu #DevotedBook

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
June 2nd, 2015 from Roaring Book Press

Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

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You can find Mathieu at her website

Man, does this book have perfect timing or what? With the Duggars in the news (daily), and the public glued to news soaking in the awfulness that is that situation, it really has brought to light this way of life. I'm talking about the ultra-conservative, authoritarian, male centric, the-devil-is-everywhere, cultish sect of Christianity. I'll be honest, I read the book for two reasons. A) I love me some Texas authors and B) this is all fascinating stuff. I was raised in a strict Catholic home and there were times when family members would lay hands on my head and pray for healing - "rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus" and all. (Yes, for headaches and colds) So, I was prepared to not be so surprised when I heard things along those lines. Funny enough, the reason I enjoyed it so much and couldn't put it down was because of Mathieu's choice in Bible verses and the almost uncomfortable way they were used and thrown in Rachel's face. I was utterly fascinated and wondered if Mathieu grew up that way. I mean we're friends but I've never asked if she grew up in super strict house with Quiverfull type of upbringing. It was so real, like Mathieu chose real-life situations and made them Rachel's. Or stole someone's diary. #we'llneverknow

I was really fascinated with Rachel's relationship with God. I really felt for the girl and wanted to give her many hugs throughout the story. I was Rachel at some points in my life - feeling like I wasn't loving God in the right way, or enough, or just plain weirded out that God had to be involved in everything. I just wanted to Saturday morning cartoons, but my dad said that Smurf's were bad (magic), Scooby-Doo was bad (ghosts), and on and on. I wondered what would happen if I said, "The devil isn't in the TV!!" (I know the answer to that, actually) Rachel really tries to love God the way she was taught to. I really felt her struggle when she had doubts about her relationship with God.

This book was a roller coaster of emotions for me. I was angry at Rachel's father for taking away some of the magic of being a kid and living carefree. I was disappointed in Rachel's mother for not wanting more for her girls. I was heartbroken for Rachel's oldest sister for choosing that narrow path. I was joyous and frightened all at the same time when Rachel started to break free from her father's iron hand. I was all over the place! 

There is so much more happening in the story than what I've spoken about. Rachel meets wonderful people outside of her religion and she gains confidence in small but meaningful ways. She doesn't go balls out crazy when a little bit of freedom comes her way. You constantly root for her, hope for the best, and by the end of the book you know Rachel is exactly where she should be. 

Can't recommend enough! 

Lucky you, the publisher is offering one free copy of DEVOTED to a lucky winner. Fill out the fancy doo-hickey to be officially entered. US only, good luck!

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