Narrator: Erin Spencer, Kirby Heyborne
Published by Philomel Books
Published on 25 June 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Dystopian, United States, Young Adult
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Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she's forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she's thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.
But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.
Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn--and challenge--the truth behind the only way of life she's ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.
A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into with this book.
I think I was expecting a bit of a dystopian – and it still kind of is, since it takes place inside a secluded community, which is why I have indicated that I think the genre can also be considered dystopian.
But it’s really about faith, and trust, and blind faith and blind trust, and people who abuse power. And the power of thinking for yourself, and fighting back when things just aren’t fair, and finding your voice.
So our main character is Miriam, and she’s part of this cut-off community run by the ‘prophet’ Daniel. She’s part of the second generation, so everything she knows has been filtered through Daniel and the other adults in the community.
But Miriam has a problem. She’s a talker in a community that wants women to be silent. Boys and girls aren’t allowed to mix, let alone speak to each other, until after their Matrimony, and oh boy… she’s chosen by the Outsider boy, Aaron. Even though she’s in love with Caleb.
So this book isn’t exactly heavy on plot or character development, and I wouldn’t exactly call it a romance, but it was very good at developing character relationships. Being set in a small, secluded community, Miriam had very strong relationships with her parents, friends, other adults, and especially Daniel.
I really liked seeing Miriam’s incredible character growth. She went from accepting her lot, though slightly chafing, to questioning just about everything. It was a really nicely done development, and I cheered every time she took a new step forward.
I kept thinking, these children, these underage minors, they’re all play-acting, pretending to be so grown up just because someone told them they’re married. I kept thinking, this could have been an adult novel, dealing with husbands and wives, infidelity, abuse, all kinds of very grown-up situations… but I think that it was more interesting because it was about people on the very cusp of adulthood.
I enjoyed this book. I think it was well-plotted, carefully developed, and had interesting characters I could really get behind. The audiobook narrators really made the work shine and delivered very emotional, gripping performances.
I think if you’re into dystopians, even though this is much more of a contemporary, then you might really enjoy this, as I did. It has all the same values of learning to stand up and fight back, and was a very pleasant experience.