Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Genres: YA, Drama, Fairytale Retelling
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.
Discussion Review by Melanie and Larissa
*this review is spoiler-free*
Growing up, I believed in miracles. I guess I don’t anymore.
Larissa: The author’s ability to immerse me in this story was incredible. I could definitely feel the claustrophobic nature of both the cult and prison setting. For me it elevated the novel in a way that can only be described as harrowing.
Melanie: Yes!! I absolutely adored Oakes’ writing. I read it in one sitting because it’s one of those books that suck you in at the very first sentence and never let go.
Larissa: There’s so many amazing quotes that can be found in this novel. Oakes’ writing will drag you in from the very first page and will captivate you to the end. I read it in one sitting. I honestly can’t believe this novel is a debut and it’s truly unique in the YA genre.
Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.
Minnow is also one hell of a character. She’s been through so much and yet has this strength about her. Figuring out the mystery surrounding the cult came with some serious development as the details came to light.
Melanie: It was certainly a breath of fresh air! It reminded me off All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry, now thinking about it! Both these novels are so dark, harrowing and masterfully told.
Oh yeah Minnow was such a great unreliable narrator. I honestly didn’t know what to think of her half the time because of it but I loved how smart and strong she was, especially once she became handless.
Look at me. My arms are crossed over my stomach and, at the ends of the arms, an absence of hands, of fingers, of fists, of nails. Of any way to fight back.
Larissa: Yeah, I also loved Angel as a side character. She certainly brought another level to the novel. Seeing her friendship slowly develop with Minnow was a beautiful thing to witness. I’m all for female friendships presented in YA and this one left me with the biggest smile on my face.
Melanie: ANGEL. She’s my favourite character, honestly. She is such a well drawn out character that I totally grew to love and while she may be standoffish to begin with, she can be so damn sweet, perhaps not even intentionally. WHOO STRONG FEMALE RELATIONSHIPSSSS.
Larissa: Yes! I just wanted to hug Angel honestly. I loved how despite her prickly exterior you could still clearly see how much she cared for Minnow.
There was some romance in this one and I really liked how it was carried out in a way that felt a little different from the norm. The romance wasn’t there to heighten the drama or anything, instead I believe it was crucial to Minnow’s development as an individual.
Fear floated around like a constant pollen, but none of us were allergic. But there’s a moment when it all becomes too much. And it was coming like a wildfire bent on burning the whole place to the ground.
Melanie: Definitely agree. It was certainly essential to have to build up Minnow’s character. It’s not swoony or anything IMO but I still really liked it.
ALSO, I really liked the portrayal of prison here – it was all kinds of entertaining.
Larissa: I still found it quite interesting and the love interest was certainly a character on his own. He definitely had his own backstory and issues to sort through.
Agreed! I think Oakes captured the atmosphere quite realistically.
Melanie: Kinda reminded me of Orange is the New Black, actually!
Larissa: Oh yeah, definitely! Like I mentioned the before the author captured the atmosphere of a prison quite well. What I enjoyed is that like the show Orange is the New Black, Oakes manages to weave a story set in a prison that is not only gritty and dark- but also surprisingly humorous and hopeful.
Melanie: And the flashbacks too when Minnow was still at the Community! I loved how it just pieced everything together little by little.
Larissa: Yeah the flashbacks were executed brilliantly! Sometimes flashbacks can be confusing or integrated poorly, but that definitely wasn’t the case here. Rather, the transitions were done smoothly and I just loved how interconnected the past became with the present.
Melanie: Honestly, it was just such a powerful read – the atmosphere felt so real… equal parts thrilling and horrifying. Just FANTASTIC.
Larissa: Completely agree, Mel! The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is an undoubtedly amazing debut for 2015 that just can’t be missed. I really can’t recommend it enough.
~Thank you Penguin Canada and HarperCollins Australia for the review copies~
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