Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

This review makes for my very first contribution to this blog! This review is about the book The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. The story is definitely intriguing, and I found it to be a very extrarordinary and well-written read.

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.

Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Pages: 400
Publisher: HarperCollins

This book was incredibly intriguing; the plot was beautifully woven and the characters were quite likeable (I personally really liked Angel). Before going into this story, the premise of the book had already drawn me in, a great part because the book sounded so very mysterious. (And also partly because of the cover, because look at that beauty!)

The story starts with Minnow’s arrest and her process, which eventually lead to her ending up in juvenile detention. Here, she interacts with the other girls and learns about the world (which is very different from the ideas with which she was raised). In between the ‘now’ of juvie, glimpses of Minnow’s past are shown, which culminate in the night that the Prophet is murdered and the camp is set afire. The part in Minnow’s past in which her hands are cut off, felt the most gruesome to me; I cannot imagine how desperate she must have felt, and the pain she must have endured at the time and in the days after.

An important part of the book is Minnow’s slow realisation that not everything she had been told by the Prophet is true, and that if she wants certainty, she should look for the knowledge herself, instead of listening to what other people tell her. Another important notion of which I liked that it was addressed, was the unfairness of the justice system – there are cases in which the victims become the convicted because they stood up for themselves. Usually, we aren’t very often confronted with this, which is why I quite appreciated it in the story. It also added another dimension to the book – it wasn’t only about Minnow’s story, but also about the stories of the other girls in juvenile detention.

The parts of the story that dealt with the cult felt very terrifying to me, but I don’t doubt that some parts may be true for certain cults that currently exist in the world. Also, when you’ve been raised with certain ideas, they will start to seem truthful and I found it very interesting to see how Minnow deals with the difference between the lies she has been told (which were quite convincing in some parts, and quite outrageously unconvincing in others) and the general ‘truths’ that we know now, through science, among others.

All in all, this is an extraordinary story and I was very much impressed by it. I really recommend it – even though it deals with pretty heavy topics, the story didn’t feel very weighed down by it thanks to the moments of lightness, for example with her friend Angel. After a lot of deliberation, I found that 4 out of 5 stars was the best rating for me.

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Have you read this book, and if so, what did you think?

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