The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: June 9th, 2015
Pages: 396
Song I Played While Reading: Hold Me Down by Halsey
Rating: 4 stars

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 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 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- if she's willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. 

I didn't actually think they cut her hands off. I thought it was some metaphorical crap the Prophet had made up and the author was using it in the summary to throw people off. Boy, was I wrong!
I struggled for the first 50 pages. I don't know if it was because it was such a huge change from the previous fantasy books I had been reading (The Raven Boys cycle), or maybe because I had a headache and it was hard to focus. But once I got comfortable, the story completely sucked me in.
Minnow is in a juvenile detention facility, and the plot runs in flashbacks, jumping around a little through her past. Sometimes not going in chronological order bothers me (like it did in Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian) but this was done very smoothly, so I enjoyed it, rather than feel confused.
I've never read about a cult before, so to say I was a little fascinated (and disturbed) was a major understatement. Actually, I wasn't just disturbed and fascinated, I was also angry, shocked, confused, and a little in awe. This book made me feel ALL the feels. I love a story thats a little sick and twisted, so this definitely fed my hunger for the creeps. Oakes writing is flawless. She managed to weave together a story that was simultaneously horrifying and beautiful. We really know what its like to live in a religious cult, with its lack of modern amenities and twisted ideals and consequences, but we're also in awe at the strength Minnow shows while living there and what she goes through afterwards.
But not only do we get the flashbacks, but we get present day Minnow's musings on religion, life, and justice. What constitutes right and wrong? If someone kills someone in self-defense, should they be punished? Guiding her along is Angel, her roommate, and the FBI agent, both of whom I immensely enjoyed. Angel was both a riot and a source of sadness for me; she lightened multiple situations with her vulgar/ enlightening comments, but she also was a total science geek, and I really think she could have made a different in the world. She was studious, always reading about outer space and modern scientists. I wish we had gotten more of her backstory, or at least what was in store for her in the future, because I believe she really helped Minnow during her first couple days of regular life. She was a total softie at heart, but had a steel wall built around it.
If you have any interests in religious cults, victims, the justice system, or a good 'ol coming-of-age story, then this is the one for you. As long as you like a coming-of-age story from a girl who was in a cult. Then definitely pick this up. If you don't, run away from this book.

""Outside, everything gets so distorted. In here, a banana's just something they give you because the government says we inmates gotta eat less junk. But, you know what the pastor at my uncle's church used to say about bananas? They prove the existence of God."
"He said they must've been designed by a creature because they're easy to open and are shaped perfectly for the human hand. But you know what else is shaped perfectly for the human hand? A dick, but don't try telling them that means God intended people to masturbate because that will get you kicked out of Sunday school. I can vouch from experience."

"We stepped headlong into a new place where we knew there was something other than good daughters and sons inside us. Because for the first time, somebody bothered to tell me why they were in pain. Everyone around me was in pain, I realize now, but none of them ever poured it out of themselves into another person.
Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another persons pain."

"I try not to dwell too much on the bad that happened to me growing up, in the past. So I'm going to tell you a little about my future. It is beautiful. I write books and get degrees and get married and have babies and go on to do a million other wonderful things because even after everything, I'm still hopeful. The people who hurt me couldn't kill my spirit. I'm dreaming still. See me, right now? Dreaming. And, given everything, that's pretty wonderful. 
So thats why I'm deserving. Not because I need your help. But because I am going to make it with or without anybody's help." 

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