The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Young Adult, Realistic, Mystery, Retelling
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 9th, 2015 by Dial Books
When Minnow is a young girl living in a trailer with her parents, a man comes along and into their lives. He immediately befriends her father, and her life is never the same. Soon, her father begins spouting off things that the man has been telling him. This man’s name is Kevin. And he calls himself The Prophet.
Minnow gets whisked off by The Prophet Kevin and her parents to live in the wilderness. Kevin is the only one who can commune with God, aka, Charlie. Minnow’s parents, among others, seem to fall for this hook, line, and sinker. Minnow is only small when they join, so she doesn’t really know any better.
The book starts off twelve years after Minnow and her family joined the “Kevinians.” Now that she is older, she is beginning to see the holes in what Kevin tells them. She doesn’t believe it the way her parents do.
In the present, Minnow is in a juvenile detention centre. She was convicted of a crime after something mysterious happened at the Kevinian Community and she had to leave. All we know is that Minnow did something bad, there was an incident at the Community, and at some point in the not too distant past, one of the Kevinians cut off Minnow’s hands.
From Juvie, Minnow looks back on her time at the Kevinian Community. As time goes by, she reveals more and more of what happened to her there. While disturbing, this book is at the same time pretty inspiring. There are all these characters in it that are really down on their luck, people who have done horrible things and have had horrible things done to them. But they don’t let those things define them. This story is ultimately one of identity, and the search that leads us to find our own voice. It explores beliefs, morals, religion, blind faith, acceptance, abuse, self-worth, justice, and a whole bunch of other really important things. These are all wrapped up in great, atmospheric writing, original story-telling, and a shroud of mystery.
The plot is so intriguing and addicting. It’s not always the fasted-paced plot. However, it’s not slow by any means. The story doesn’t really take place over that long of a time span. In the present, it’s only a few months I believe, but the flashes to the past go back further than that—months, sometimes years. The characters in the present do not develop so much as layers of who they are are revealed slowly throughout.
I completely devoured this book. I loved it. I had to know what really happened. I had to keep turning the pages to find out! What really went on at the Community?! I kind of have a thing for cults. I find them so completely fascinating. I was also gripped by the present and the characters there. I loved the dynamic between Minnow and her cellmate, Angel, as well as the other girls at the facility. So good.
Also, apparently this book is loosely based around one of Grimm’s fairytales. That’s neat! It’s called, The Girl With No Hands. Pretty straightforward title, there! I haven’t read the fairytale, but I must say I’m intrigued.
This book was thrilling, gripping, atmospheric, horrific at times, and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this book.
Content warning: Chilling and disturbing scenes.