Featured Review: The Virtue Of Sin (Shannon Schuren)
About This Book:
A novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.
But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.
Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.
*Review Contributed Kim Baccellia Staff Reviewer*
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven from the evil outside. She's taught to be submissive and obedient to their leader Daniel. When the ceremony the Matrimony comes, Miriam is excited as she feels Caleb will choose her as his wife. Nothing goes as planned and instead of being faithful, Miriam has more questions. Ones that lead her to question if Daniel is in fact a so-called prophet or something else.
What worked: This Handmaid's Tale meets YA has all the makings of a cult novel. There is a haven out in the desert, away from modern day civilization with a man who professes to be a prophet. The women are supposed to be submissive, humble, and not speak out. Everything that Miriam isn't. There's a lot in this book regarding the Matrimony ceremony where the boys 'chose' the girl that they feel God revealed to them in a dream to be their wives. They write down their dreams in a journal which Daniel 'interprets' and helps the boys to know who their chosen wife will be. The girls have no say in these decisions. As a matter of fact they are separated from the boys around the age of 7.
Miriam's questioning of her faith, Daniel, and God are shown in a very realistic way.When a new member's family joins the flock, this only adds to her questions. Those around her either try to silence her or shame her.
Caleb's point of view shows readers the other side of the cult from the male's perspective. When things don't go his way, he reacts first in anger and then trying to appease Daniel. He has his own questions, including questions on why his own prayers weren't answered. At the end of the novel, he confronts Daniel and demands the truth.
Coming of age story where a girl in a cult questions not only her faith, but her so-called prophet after things don't go the way she'd been taught. Miriam is strong, courageous, and not afraid. Even if that means losing everything she'd only known in her life.
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