FICTION

Devoted

336p. Roaring Brook. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596439115; ebk. ISBN 9781596439122.
COPY ISBN
Gr 6 Up—Traditional patriarchal belief systems stress that girls should be under the control of their fathers until they marry at very young ages and are then placed under the control of their husbands. Rachel Walker, a Born Again Christian teen, is one of 10 children whose family follows this plan until something from the outside world tugs within her. Rachel learns that Lauren Sullivan, a girl who escaped from this community a few years ago, is back in town working at an animal hospital. Through emails, Rachel finds that she and Lauren share similar radical ideas. Lauren sends the protagonist a line from a poem by Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do/With your one wild and precious life?" This haunting question gives Rachel no peace, but she knows that the answer for her is not to follow in her mother's footsteps. When a neighbor tells Mr. Walker that Rachel was seen at the animal hospital, he decides to send her to a religious retreat that will reprogram her to become obedient again. This proves to be too much for Rachel and she gets Lauren to rescue her. Rachel's courage allows her to follow a new destiny that will honor her precious life. Many teens will have no difficulty in rejecting the strict tenets of Rachel's faith. Readers will be drawn into her anguish even though the outcome will come as no surprise.
VERDICT Devoted chronicles that calling to pursue one's heart's desire, a feeling that most teens will connect with and understand.

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