Review: Devoted – Jennifer Mathieu

devotedRachel Walker is devoted to God.

She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy.

But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

Rating: 4/5

A fantastic, sensitively-written read, that had me weeping through the last couple of pages. Indeed, the book is particularly timely, what with the insanity of the Duggars and their public unraveling.

Reading about certain aspects of the Quiverfull movement, or at least the interpretation that Rachel’s family had of it, provoked a visceral reaction in me – the overt patriarchy, the dismissal of scientific information, the destruction of books that had fantasy elements or really, anything that could possibly be construed as questionable content… I think the one scene that really got to me was when Rachel’s father bombarded her mother with Bible versus to cure her sadness after her miscarriage – instead of offering her human comfort and speaking with her, he insisted upon preaching at her.

I really appreciated the nuance of the author – while our MC escapes from the fundamentalist religious cult, she does not abandon religion entirely, instead choosing a path of spirituality that works for her. This is contrasted with another ex-cult member, Lauren, who has walked away from all things religious. Both are presented as perfectly viable, perfectly understandable options.

I think readers of the book all mentally cheered when Rachel finally made her escape, but the author showed exactly how many problems remained for our MC due to her upbringing – everything from psychological issues to encountering all the things in the ‘real’ world that she was never allowed to have or experience.

While quite a departure from her previous book, this is definitely another winner from Jennifer Mathieu.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Devoted – Jennifer Mathieu

  1. I have a hard time trying to get into books heavy with religious connotations. I don’t know. I feel like a schmuck when I end up chortling at some people’s valuation of prayers. Like, it cures sadness and ailments without the need for medicine. I’m going to hell.

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  2. Like Joy, though I am a religious person I don’t enjoy seeing strong tones of it in fiction. However, this book sounds like it explores faith from a very interesting and humanising angle. The excerpt about the miscarriage and her father puts chills down my spine. Fantastic review!

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    1. Yup, I thought it was very well done in terms of presenting a balanced view of religion, particularly since our MC doesn’t reject it entirely, but rather discovers that there are other churches out there that better suit her.

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  3. I have marked this for reading a while ago, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to it yet. It is, as you say, particularly timely that such a story should be made available. Fantastic review.

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