It’s all too easy to bash a religion when there are so many people in the world who cling desperately to the teachings they believe in. And I don’t want to sound like I’m religion-hating because for some it has its rightful place…but taking religions too far to the point of cultism is easy to envision since it happens more than we’d like to admit. The concept of the cult and what happens in the aftermath of the cult’s dismantling is explored in Stephanie Oakes’s The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.
Minnow Bly is a 17 year old girl who is part of the Kevinian religious group living out in the wilderness of Montana. Having spent 12 years of her life as a part of this polygyny where the children aren’t supposed to know who their birth mother is, Minnow has a secret from all of her fellow Kevinians–and it’s a dark-skinned boy by the name of Jude. When Kevin the Prophet communes with God and learns that he should wed Minnow, she rebels and from that rebellion, she loses her hands. Not long after hands are amputated, the Kevinian settlement goes up in flames and Minnow is taken into police custody and sentenced to jail, where she gets a dose of the real world.
With a narrative told in flashbacks and current time action to flesh out the tale, a decent element of suspense is woven into the story. As a coming of age story, there are larger consequences and implications presented in the narrative, which provide a sense of realism to a story that are all too real. The chapters are brief and quickly-paced to maintain a page-turner feel. It is always interesting to view the society you live in from the perspective of an outsider, and Minnow’s perspective on the contemporary world was revealing to what we take for granted and assume to be true.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.