My mother and I had really made an effort to go into town so I could buy this book. We walked in through the doors of the bookstore and a man passed by saying “they’re closing.” We completely ignored him and pushed into the store, where a young employee told us that they were in the process of closing. “Wait! Please, we know what we want. It’s one book.” The employee glanced around and then relented. I got the book and shuffled hurriedly out the door. That was a miracle. Before I explain what this book is about, let me tell you about why I wanted to read it so badly.
This post is probably one the most interesting book reviews for me to write, because I know the author. She is very nice, so when I heard about the book coming out a year or two ago I really wanted to read it, but it hasn’t happened until now. So, I got this book because I wanted to support an author I know. I had heard little about it – not even that much about the plot – but I’m happy to say that it more than met my expectations.
Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Age Group: High schoolers and up (for some mature topics and graphic content – the girl had her hands cut off)
My rating: 3.5/4 stars
Synopsis: “The cult took everything from 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 about what happened that night. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she relives the events that led to her incarceration and struggles to unlearn everything that she has been taught to believe. But when an FBI investigator approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she’s always dreamed of – but only if she agrees to divulge her secrets.”
I went into this book trying not to be too optimistic. I had no clue if I would like it. I wanted to like it because Stephanie Oakes is such a lovely person, but I was still preparing myself to be disappointed. I am so overjoyed to say that the book not only met my expectations, but that I fully enjoyed everything about it. The characters were totally original and well-rounded and had complex relationships that developed throughout the story. I loved how the author mixed so much into the novel: there was suspense, mystery, thrill, a bit of romance, and such a feeling of realness. She made me feel like I was there and by the end, I felt like I really knew the characters.
The biggest thing that struck me about this book, though, wasn’t the plot or the characters or anything of the sort. It was the quality of the writing. Her use of figurative language is astounding and was used in all the right places. Allow me to share a snippet from the beginning: “They’re eating from bags in the front seat, some food I don’t recognize, bright colored and crunchy between their molars. They hold the food in their meaty hands like fragile things they’re afraid to break. When they’re done, they shrivel up the bags with a scritch sound and throw them to the floor. We drive through the snow-clotted streets to a huge white building that they tell me is a hospital.” (Page 13)
One thing that may not have been the best, in my opinion, is that I wish there had been an epilogue, maybe something explaining what happened to Jude. I can see why this wasn’t necessarily needed and I am supportive of the fact that there was still an air of mystery surrounding the ending.
Overall, I am so happy that I got to enjoy this wonderful book (and even get it signed)! I would totally recommend it. I also can’t wait for her second book, The Arsonist, to come out in August.
Note: The fact that I know this author in no way contributed to my rating or enjoyment of the book and in no way affected this review.