The Virtue of Sin

Philomel. Jun. 2019. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525516545.
Gr 8 Up–New Jerusalem is a desert haven for the people who live there. Protected from the evils of the outside world and led in spiritual growth by their prophet Daniel, the people are safe. Daniel says the time has come for a Matrimony where the young men will take a wife, chosen by God and revealed to them in their dreams. Miriam knows Caleb will choose her. But things go terribly wrong—Miriam finds herself bound to a new member of their community and left adrift from what she believed was her path. Did God choose for them, or is this Daniel’s mistake? Is everything Miriam has been taught a lie? If so, what does she do? Miriam is set upon a path that reveals long-hidden truths about the place she has always called home. Soon words like cult and false prophet are being uttered, and it is up to her to decide what she believes and what she can live with. Miriam is the only female character who finds her true voice and limited power, while the other female characters come across as caricatures and stereotypes. The male characters are predictably domineering, disapproving, and hungry for power.
VERDICT While the book is well written, it reads like a cliché of every cult story that has been on the news. There are no surprises, and readers can see the path clearly laid out before them. A simplistic read about a deeper problem.

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