Book Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

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.  
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli
I didn't just speed through this book, I devoured it.  To quote my good friend Michelle, I feasted on these words.  Mathieu has written another stand-out story, one that stayed with me long after I finished reading. 

For reasons I can't articulate, I am always drawn to books about religious extremes.  Peggy Riley's Amity and Sorrow comes to mind, as well as another whose title escapes me at the moment.  So, Devoted was right up my alley, so to speak.  I'd already read and loved Mathieu's The Truth About Alice, so I knew I was in for an intense read.

I connected with Rachel from page one and that feeling of understanding only intensified as the book progressed.  Rachel's life consists of caring for her younger siblings.  Everything she does, thinks, says, and wears is dictated by her religion.  Her religion is very patriarchal and her father has the ultimate say-so in everything that happens in their family.  Rachel is one of ten kids (ten!) and early into the book, her mother announces her eleventh pregnancy.  Rachel immediately feels overwhelmed at the thought of another sibling to care for.  And she's terrified of turning 18 and soon having her own spouse and children.  Rachel wants to learn, to go to school, have a profession, and exercise some free will.  But her church does not allow for women to do any of those things.  

Rachel is living in a kind of torment: knowing she wants more out of life but unable to even ask the questions she has.  She connects with another young woman who left the church.  Rachel starts to feel like there might be a different kind of life out there for her, and just as she starts to really have some hope, things turn on a dime.  Her world is turned upside down and she has to make a choice.

What I loved about Devoted was the intensity of the story. I felt each of Rachel's emotions as if they were my own.  I love that Mathieu's writing evokes those feelings in me.  This book was fast-paced and I kept finding myself saying, one more page, just one more page.  And Devoted was full of my very favorite thing: character growth.  So much growth for a novel of this length.

The story ended just as it should have: no happily ever after, but yet a 'hopefully ever after.'  I admire Mathieu for keeping things realistic.  I finished this book with a sense of anticipation for Rachel's future, and I loved feeling that way for her.  I loved everything about Devoted and highly recommend it! 


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