The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
1735 0
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Publisher
Age Range
14+
Release Date
June 09, 2015
ISBN
0803740700
Buy This Book
      
A hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in yourself 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—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. Gorgeously written, breathlessly page-turning and sprinkled with moments of unexpected humor, this harrowing debut is perfect for readers of Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me and Nova Ren Suma's The Walls Around Us, as well as for fans of Orange is the New Black.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

The Cult Life
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Told entirely from the first-person perspective of Minnow, beginning from the point she is arrested and placed in a juvenile detention facility. At first, her unreliable narration leads readers to think she has been placed in this facility because it’s suspected she somehow caused death and destruction at the isolated cult compound where she’d been living since the age of 5. But as it turns out, her detention is a far more complicated matter combining severe violence against a stranger and a possible murder coverup. The truth of her backstory is revealed in non-linear flashbacks throughout her stay.

What I Liked:

-The writing is unusually vivid and compelling. So much so, I didn’t really mind the slowness of the first 70 pages. It’s always encouraging to see this level of prose skill available in YA. The emotional conveyance is raw, and the violence depicted is both stunning and visceral.

-In this reader’s opinion, the author did a decent job of making the conflict crux of this story about the psychological aspects of cultism rather than any specific faith or religion. While Kevinians (named narcissistically after their “prophet”) bear more than a passing resemblance to the perverted LDS offshoot led by polygamist/pedophile Warren Jeffs, their belief system doesn’t seem to be based around anything in particular outside of conspiracy, paranoia, and pseudo-religiosity.

"I guess people can't be content without answers, even if they're wrong. We'd rather have a lie than a question we can never know the answer to."

-Not much actively happens during the present-day portions of the book, outside of institutional nuance and visits from the man investigating the deaths at the former cult compound. So, the driving motivation to read on relies largely on the reader’s desire to piece together the mystery of Minnow’s origins—culminating and even extending beyond the point where she experienced the punitive amputation of both of her hands.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

-One of the biggest things I had trouble with was believability. The Prophet was incredibly one-note in characterization. By the end, I still hadn’t seen any evidence he had enough charisma to convince over 100 blue-collar folks to just up and leave their lives to live in huts in the woods. In all of Minnow's memories of him, he has a creep factor of 10 and a charm factor of 1. And only so much of that can be blamed on Minnow being an unreliable narrator. The implication seems to be that because these people were poor and poorly educated, they were particularly vulnerable. (But if those are the ideal conditions for cult formation, someone needs to explain to everyone how Scientology became such a prominent force. >.>)

-Another jarring implausibility came in the form of the illiterate Minnow’s verbose, sometimes borderline flowery inner dialogue. Which also encompasses her knowing things she would have had no access to. In particular, her possessing the insight and justification for trying to rescue her unwilling younger sister from the cult’s grasp.

"What?" he demanded. "But she doesn't want to."
"It doesn't matter--she's brainwashed."

See... based on her background and the material available to her, Minnow shouldn't even know the word “brainwashed,” let alone understand the meaning of it. Maybe if Jude had taught her to read and she spent secret time getting these kinds of ideas into her head (since radio and TV influences are out of the question), I could buy this massive revelation. But he didn’t and she didn’t. As it was, this convenient unlikelihood pulled me completely out of the story.

-Unfortunately, I never quite connected with Minnow. In part because her characterization never feels fully realized. She is fairly tough, despite the subservient females-are-lesser-beings upbringing. And she shows some heroinism at one single point when she protects a painfully naive fellow inmate from sexual exploitation. But aside from this, we don’t really get to know her—her likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, fears, etc. Which left a pretty bland taste in this reader’s literary mouth. (I suspect a 3rd person telling would have helped with a lot of this, arousing fewer deep POV expectations than 1st person.)

-The ending was anticlimactic and lacking in closure on many fronts. If you have a burning desire to know the fate of your MC… be forewarned. You won’t find that here.
----------------------

On the whole, we see a few widely-spaced bouts of titillation and shock value, but ultimately... not much substance. If one wants a more accurate and gripping picture of the progression into cult life, I strongly suggest reading: Educated by Tara Westover.
Because the truth is stranger than fiction, and often just as shocking.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Movies, mansions, and murder in the Golden Age of Hollywood!...
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meena Harris debuts with an empowering picture book about two...
Harvey Holds His Own (The Harvey Stories, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The West Highland Terrier that brought Harvey Comes Home to...
Everything I Thought I Knew
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just...
The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to...
The Hunt
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Death marked her from her very first breath. Being...
Swallowed by a Secret
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
One dead father. One lying mother. ...
Circus of the Dead Book One
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
There are many ways to die at the Circus...
Roaring
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Colt Clemmons is an agent in a specialized division...
Court of Lions
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Court of Lions is the long-awaited second and final...
More Than Just a Pretty Face
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a...
The Adventurers Guild: Night of Dangers
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
After the events at Llethanyl, city of the elves, Zed...
And Then I Turned into a Mermaid (And Then I Turned into a Mermaid, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Emily Windsnap and Maybe A Mermaid, And...
After the Worst Thing Happens
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Left reeling after her thoughtless mistake causes a terrible accident,...
Hirana's War: Book Two in the Eloia Born Series
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Praise for Eloia Born “Loved it! A well-written narrative...
Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His Life
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
"If you like, I’ll tell you the story of a...

Latest Member Reviews

 
4.0
"WHAT I LOVED: We think of the glitz, glamorous mega-stars, and classic movies when we think of the Golden Age..."
The Night Country (The Hazel Wood #2)
 
4.0
"Alice Proserpine thought she was mostly back to “normal” life after breaking from her story in the Hinterland, but when..."
Everything I Thought I Knew
 
4.3
"What worked: Intriguing plot of Chloe, a seventeen-year-old super-achiever, who ends up collapsing during her senior year in high school..."
The Adventurers Guild: Night of Dangers
 
5.0
"THE ADVENTURERS GUILD: NIGHT OF DANGERS by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos is the culmination of a Middle Grade..."
The Pros of Cons
 
4.0
"WHAT I LOVED: I genuinely can't imagine four different events happening simultaneously in the same complex, but it happens..."
BRB I'm Going to Disneyland
 
4.0
"'BRB: I'm Going to Disneyland' by Courtney Carbone is a cute, quick read. As a novel written in texts, emails,..."
He Must Like You
 
5.0
"'He Must Like You' by Danielle Younge-Ullman is an intensely provocative look at the various ways in which consent, upset,..."
How the Stars Came to Be
 
5.0
"Reviewed for YA Books Central Beautiful in every aspect. The book: This is a story about how the..."
Unscripted
 
5.0
"A book so real it can be u comfortable at times. The story: Zelda doesn’t have a..."
The Dark Tide
 
5.0
"THE DARK TIDE is an enthralling and atmospheric YA fantasy read. We follow Lina, a townsperson, and Eva, the witch..."
Where Dreams Descend
 
4.0
"What worked: Beautifully written tale where a girl performer breaks away from her cage and enters a competition of magicians..."
The Black Kids
 
5.0
"THE BLACK KIDS is a really poignant read that ties history to the present. Ashley is a senior in high..."
What Goes Up
 
3.3
"'What Goes Up' by Christine Heppermann is a quick read, as it is a novel-in-verse, a format that can be..."
They Wish They Were Us
 
4.3
"THEY WISH THEY WERE US is an engaging YA thriller reminiscent of GOSSIP GIRLS. The book follows Jill, who had..."
Roaring
 
3.0
"ROARING takes place in the 1920s- with a twist. Monsters, sirens, minotaurs, basilisks, and more, exist, and they are woven..."
More Than Just a Pretty Face
 
5.0
"MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE is a fantastic YA contemporary romance that follows Danyal during his senior year of..."
You Say It First
 
3.3
"'You Say It First' is easily one of those books you will either love or hate. My feelings fell somewhere..."
Court of Lions (Mirage, #2)
 
5.0
"COURT OF LIONS finishes the MIRAGE duology with aplomb. This YA fantasy series takes us to another planet and the..."
The Unleashed: The Haunted, Book 2
 
4.0
"Creepy, suspenseful paranormal where some friends learn that a summoning might bring back something unexpected and evil. ..."
The Year of the Witching
 
5.0
"Immanuelle lives in the town of Bethel where the Prophet's word is law and the highest honor for a woman..."