Publisher: Hachette Australia
Release Date: February 2019
RRP: $16.99 AUD Paperback
Rachel Walker's family and community have turned away from the world.
Every part of Rachel's life is controlled, from what she reads to where she goes and what she wears. Her parents dictate how her life must be: marriage, modesty, children and obedience to her future husband. But when a former member of her community, a girl who escaped, moves back to her small Texas town, Rachel's world turns upside down.
She realises that her life is her own. But can she find the courage to fight for it?
Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing me with an unsolicited ARC to review. All thoughts are my own.
Trigger Warnings: Emotional and physical abuse, miscarriage, depression and anxiety.
Well where do I start… This book took a long time for me to read – why you ask? Religion.
Religion is something that I struggle with personally and Devoted focuses on it throughout the whole novel. Throughout the first half of Devoted religion is wielded as a scare tactic, it is used to keep woman subdued and men the higher being.
I found myself getting insanely frustrated throughout the first half or so of this novel which made me keep putting the book down. It was like going back in time when we are in the middle of the twenty first century. It felt like I was reading about a cult that Rachel was stuck in simply because she was born into it.
Rachel is our main protagonist, she is brought up with multiple siblings that she is responsible for alongside her mother and her other sister Ruth. Rachel is taught that women are to be good wives and mothers and that is their purpose in life. She is to dress appropriately as to not tempt men (Because of course it is the women’s fault if a man is tempted). From the time she wakes until the time she goes to bed, Rachel is expected to be a dutiful daughter.
However when Lauren Sullivan returns to Calvary, Rachel begins to wonder and question her life, and thus the novel really starts to take shape.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Rachel and Lauren, they both supported each other and helped each other grow and move past the difficulties they left behind.
Both women are inspiring and they chose to take control of their own lives.
Rachel learns to talk to a boy, Mark, who she becomes good friends with, there is even a little flirting, but the relationship just remains friendly throughout the novel which I was really grateful for. Rachel didn’t need a boy to complete the new path she was on and I am really glad Jennifer didn’t feel the need for that to happen.
The first half of this novel was quite hard to get into, but the pace did pick up in the second half and I found myself enjoying it overall. I would have liked if the first half was cut down to a quarter so we could have seen more of Rachels' life once she started school.
This novel is about choosing yourself over the preaching’s and beliefs of others, it is about realising that you have the potential to do whatever you put your mind to. Devoted is an empowering feminist novel that I do encourage everyone to read – we all need to be reminded of the message that this novel brings: Your life is your own.
Below is an excerpt from the poem that features in this novel, this line/verse really resonated not only with our protagonist Rachel, but also with me:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?